Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Greatest Movie Ever Sold

The Docu-Buster (The Greatest Movie Ever Sold) from director Morgan Spurlock takes a look at branding, advertising, and product placement. Fans and proponents of Morgan Spurlock and the documentary genre will ask what the angle is and try to decipher a motive for making such a film. However, after taking in the screening and listening to the Q&A that followed it really doesn't seem to have any angle or motive. Anyone that wants to take the "Super Size Me" (2004) slant to this film is doing the film an injustice.

The film is smart, clever, and very much tongue-in-cheek. Whether it is POM, Ban deodorant, Mini Cooper, Hyatt, JetBlue, Sheetz, Merrell, or Mane n Tail Shampoo none will get me to purchase their product/service because of their involvement in the film. However, they did just get me to include them in my blog and for the couple dozen readers of my blog maybe their brands got what they paid for. The only brand that comes out on-top in this film is Morgan Spurlock who after the much debated "Super Size Me" and the failed "Where in the World is Osama" probably needed a branding boost.

One aspect of marketing that I wish this film would have touched on is the Super Bowl and how you can have an advertisement run for 30 seconds and you still don't even know if it is an advertisement for a car, movie, or jeans. Those usually receive the worst post Super Bowl ratings and the next day viewers realize what they were being advertised and then quickly forget about it.

During the screening a couple films came to mind "Rollerball" (1975) which is about a corporate controlled future in sports, and the animated short film "Logorama" (2009), which won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. "Rollerball" dealt with the business side of advertising by forcing a retirement of the most celebrated star of the fictional sport. This would be like telling LeBron or Kobe that they need to retire from the NBA because they are "too good". With "Logorama" the world is inhabited by forms of commercial branding. The brands are used to represent characters, props, locations, vehicles, etc.

With any documentary if you don't learn something, or give you pause to reflect on the topic, than it didn't deliver on its goal. Something that I took away from the film was that in Sao Paulo, Brazil there is a ban on public advertising. I have never been, however my parents were there in February 2011 and in looking at photos it is very much an accurate portrayal of the city. My parents didn't even realize it at the time, which says something about whether the in your face advertising even works. During the Q&A it was asked if a city in the US could take such a strong stance and Morgan Spurlock doesn't think a "major" city could accomplish this, but a smaller city like Portland, OR and Seattle, WA could challenge this. Growing up in the northwest I am not sure what it would be like to drive and not see the "Made in Oregon" or the "Public Market" signs.

But even though this extreme is presented, I am not sure that is what Morgan Spurlock is suggesting we should do. Rather, the question is how much is too much and where do you draw the line on advertising. I have always thought that less is more and hope that everyone goes to see this film. It will most likely be nominated for a documentary award and receives 5 Quacks from this Duck.

(screening date 4/11/11, release date 4/22/11, location Landmark E Street Cinema)

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