Sydney Film Festival – POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold – Directed by Morgan Spurlock. By Hilary Simmons.

Morgan Spurlock‘s POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is a fully sponsored film about sponsorship itself. By whom? For how much? He’ll tell you.

Spurlock is, as one sponsor calls him, your average Joe. He uses his regular-guy humour to pitch his meta-movie about corporate branding to cautious corporate executives and paranoid PR representatives in uniformly colourless boardrooms. His pitch is simple: he intends to make a documentary about branding, advertising and product placement that is financed and made possible by brands, advertising and product placement.

By the time Spurlock has convinced enough sponsors – including ‘Ban’ deodorant, ‘Mini Cooper’ and ‘POM Wonderful’ – to buy product placement in his documentary, it’s about two thirds into POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, and his point about the overwhelming presence of marketing in movies has well and truly hit home.

We may fancy ourselves savvy media consumers, oh-so-shrewdly aware of the omnipresence of marketing in our branded world – but Spurlock pulls back the curtain even further to show us exactly how it’s done. Spurlock peddles the line that he’s not selling out, he’s buying in – and earnestly extols the virtues of ‘Pom Wonderful’ pomegranate juice. For the most part, he is utterly convincing (and for the record, ‘POM Wonderful’ was distributed freely in the cinema complex as we waited to file in).

Spurlock, of course, is a brand himself. One thing that all the marketing agencies and manufacturers have in common is their fear of association with Spurlock tarnishing their name. When Spurlock visits a brand-matching expert to determine his strengths, she concludes that his brand is a “mindful-playful” combination. Throughout the documentary, Spurlock’s tongue is placed firmly in cheek as he spruiks human-and-horse shampoo alongside higher-profile sponsors.

Spurlock interviews the likes of Noam Chomsky and Brett Ratner, and there’s a great line from JJ Adams, who says, “I believe in storytelling, not story selling.” The message of POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold seems to be that at some point people must push back. Spurlock isn’t a corporation, but he’s trading in ideas. The controversy surrounding the film is part and parcel of it. It’s got me sold.


Discuss: Did you catch POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold at SFF?

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