March 13, 2012, by ICCSR

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

Or officially POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.  That’s for sponsorship reasons which will be made clear shortly.

The Greatest Movie is the third movie in our annual Doing the Business film season, in partnership with the Broadway Cinema.

Launched in 2011, The Greatest Movie is, narrowly, about product placement and, more broadly, about the power of marketing and sponsorship… as if the Ad Men had not had enough bad press…

There are echoes of one of Morgan Spurlock’s earlier films, Super Size Me, which we showed a couple of seasons ago, in which he explores the health qualities of a certain fast-food product. He does so by eating a lot of burgers, and does so for some months.  Strangely, he doesn’t feel well as a result… ergo, the product is unhealthy…

In the Greatest Movie, Spurlock also engages with some serious points by taking his target subject to an absurd or logical extent – depending on your point of view. 

He tries to make a movie whose content is the sponsors’ products… and the processes Spurlock went through in order to win the sponsorship deals.  In fact there is a lot more of the engagement with companies, marketers and lawyers and this provides insights into the business minds behind sponsorship and marketing.  That there was less time devoted to products was simply because most businesses got cold feet and declined an appearance in The Greatest Movie.  There are a lot of laughs on the way, including concerning the properties of a certain fruit drink (POM Wonderful – which agreed to ‘above-the-title billing’) and Mane ‘n Tail – a shampoo for humans and horses…

The film also has some serious commentary from marketers, their critics – academics and campaigners – and film makers.  ‘Stars’ include Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Quentin Tarantino and Donald Trump.

Finally, the film ventures into the area of sponsorship more generally and looks at the plight of public institutions using sponsorship to cover the bills … interesting but a segue too far for my taste.  Perhaps this was because Morgan did not have the footage to quite do the industry as he might have liked?

Following the movie we had a discussion about it and the product placement industry led by Graeme Atkinson, Director of The Big Film Group … a product placement agency.  Graeme provided a background to the UK industry (e.g. the predominance of free products for film makers, the industry preference for directors’ authority over the use of products).  He also showed clips of what placements worked well from artistic and commercial vantage points … and what … er … didn’t.

I just hope that I don’t spend the rest of my life looking out for branded products in movies… it could ruin the pleasure of the cinema…

By Professor Jeremy Moon, Director of the ICCSR, Nottingham University Business School

Image courtesy of Broadway

Posted in EVENTS at the ICCSR