Super Sized Advertising

Documentary film maker Morgan Spurlock tackled the mother of all fast food giants in his 2004 film, Super Size Me. In his third cinematic foray, Spurlock explores product placement and the prevalence of advertising in American society. Spurlock explains that he decided to delve into this topic because most consumers don’t seem to realize the pervasiveness of standard marketing practices. He cites television shows and other forms of entertainment as examples of subtle product placement.

Many consumers don’t seem to grasp that nothing appears on screen by accident; every camera shot is choreographed to maximize revenue for corporate sponsors.

In order to drive the point home, Spurlock obtains the project’s funding from a host of well known brands, including Jet Blue, Ban deodorant, Mini Cooper, and Pom Wonderful. The plot follows him as he meets and mingles with various company executives in an attempt to reveal what goes on behind the scenes. In exchange for meals, accommodations, air travel, and other expenses paid, Spurlock turns himself into a walking promotional tool. A few so called alternative brands, 7th Generation cleaning products for instance, hop on the bandwagon as well. For the purpose of establishing a contrast, Spurlock travels to Sao Paulo, Brazil. The city deemed outdoor advertising, such as billboards, flyers, etc., cultural pollution. Surveying the ad-free urban landscape effectively illustrates the ubiquitousness of contemporary commercialism.

The film opens nationwide on Friday, April 29th, though on limited engagement. Obviously, Spurlock aims for comedic overkill, but there’s no harm in promoting transparency in the advertising industry. For instance, he reveals the amount of funding necessary to reach the big screen along with the negotiations that deliver financial backing. The information presented in the film likely won’t alter consumer behavior in the long run. Spurlock is really selling awareness, and marketing professionals should be able to at least laugh at themselves. As an executive pointed out on camera, Spurlock’s pitch reveals a profound sense of respect for the audience. No one pulls the wool over anyone else’s eyes, and notorious consumer advocate Ralph Nadar gives listeners interesting food for thought. Perhaps the most telling topic involves the degree of control the sponsors attempt to exert over the creative process. No one wants to have their brand tarnished on screen, but there’s really no need to demand limitless oversight. Pom Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold educates the public and reminds those behind the scenes not to take entertainment so…..seriously.

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