I don’t want to give too much away about this film, because it is such an enjoyable viewing experience that I think it would be better for all to see it then for me to recount the parts that made me love it the most. Instead, I’ll be opinionated and vague. Work for you?

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is a documentary by Morgan Spurlock, the man behind Super Size Me, that focuses on advertising in movies (product placement) and asks the questions: what if a documentary was just as pervasive in its cross-promotional advertising as, say, Iron Man (or most recently, Thor) and what would happen if you funded a documentary entirely with marketing money? Spurlock then goes about filming the process behind finding advertisers and marketers for his documentary, fulfilling his now-contracted obligations and building the foundation for the real experiment, which is the film’s final release (which is, of course, what’s happening now, making this a documentary on the creation of something that it doesn’t even show, because it hadn’t happened yet). Sound confusing? See the movie. It’s not so much that it’s confusing in that it spurs so much thought that you wind up confusing yourself after-the-fact. Or maybe that’s just me. I think too much…

When I first caught the film at Sundance 2011, I saw it at a press screening. While it was entertaining and thought-provoking, I remember walking out of the theater thinking, “yeah, but what about ‘normal’ people? I’m interested because I engage in marketing myself, but what about the folks who could give a f**k? Will they even go see the film? Where can I get a POM Wonderful drink?”

My questions were answered (all but the POM Wonderful; still can’t find that drink anywhere I shop) the second time I saw the film, this month at the 2011 Kansas City FilmFest. The audience was not film industry; these were the folks who were going to make or break the film… and they were loving it. After the movie, and for the rest of the fest, I overheard conversations that started with, “Did you see POM Wonderful? So good…” I wanted to break in and tell them that the movie was not simply called “POM Wonderful,” but why do that? The fact folks were referring to a documentary about advertising by simply repeating the title sponsor’s name showed that the film was already working for said sponsor. The entire time folks were laughing about the absurdity of marketing, they were being marketed to so effectively that, after the movie, they were walking around repeating the film’s advertisers by name. I mean, after this movie, you will never forget Mane ‘N Tail, let alone POM Wonderful. Maybe the ultimate joke is on the advertisers too shortsighted to see how effective this is for those advertisers that did buy-in. We’ll find out soon enough.

And Spurlock addresses it at the end of the documentary, and I think it’s true: NOW is when the film will get really interesting. Essentially the documentary is pre-production on a marketing campaign juggernaut that has the aim of marketing other marketing campaigns. I wonder how exciting it’ll be for that audience member who watches the film for the first time after having heard a radio ad, seen a commercial, or seen any of the marketing in reality that is discussed theoretically in the movie. It’ll be a real, “wow, they got me in theater, and now that I’m here, they’re showing me how much thought and effort went into making that happen. This is insidious… which is playing on the other screen… marketing…”

In the end, I don’t know what Spurlock has accomplished with this film, other than I know so much about all the companies advertising with the film that I can almost list them all off by memory. I have a negative opinion of Volkswagon due to… well, see the movie. It is powerful stuff. A film about how we don’t pay attention to the fact that we’re being marketed to every second of the day, while marketing to us more effectively than those other modes of advertising. I’m had POM Wonderful twice in my life, but if I could find it in more stores, I’d probably be drinking it now. POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is a marketing campaign wrapped in a documentary wrapped in a marketing campaign wrapped in a joke on the audience that thinks the joke is on the advertisers while Morgan Spurlock laughs at all of them, because if there’s one thing about to get more exposure than anything, it’s Morgan Spurlock. So brilliant, it’s borderline evil.

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  1. Tameral says:

    I’ve seen the movie a few times. I’m not in advertising or anything. Just a normal movie goer. Interesting, I also have a negative feeling about VW…to this day….saw the movie a year ago!

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