30 September 2011
Morgan Spurlock on product placement: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Morgan Spurlock, the director that brought us Super Size Me takes on the mighty advertising and marketing industry in his latest documentary film, 'The Greatest Movie Ever Sold'.
This time Spurlock brings to our attention the world of product placement. The film, funded entirely by advertising, has Spurlock meeting advertisers, brands (far too many to mention and they'll probably receive good airtime anyway), features producers and directors such as J.J. Abrams, Quentin Tarantino; actors Peter Berg and Ralph Nader; music producer Antonio Reid; economist Noam Chomsky and billionaire Donald Trump.
Scheduled for cinema release from 14 October 2011, the movie is billed as: "A documentary about branding, advertising and product placement that is financed and made possible by brands, advertising and product placement."
Its director is no shrinking violet and has truly embraced the industry, he's maximising exposure of the film and therefore revenue of it, more intensely than he's done for other efforts.
It's great timing for the US documentary filmmaker to be in the UK to plug his new film, given the relaxing of UK law on product placement in February this year by media regular Ofcom. Product placement in the UK has to be editorially balanced and not overwhelm programmes where the ads become vehicles solely for advertising. Products cannot be placed in news or children’s programmes.
They also prohibited in religious, current affairs and consumer advice programmes made for UK audiences. However, it is allowed in films (including dramas and documentaries), TV series (including soaps), entertainment shows and sports programmes. The P symbol is to be
used to demonstrate to consumers when product placement is present,
but with only months in to the laws being relaxed, its impact is currently
Where product placement has long been a feature in the US, advertisers for the UK audience long appealed for a relaxation in law, possibly too late for advertisers to offset the dwindling sales due to the dire economic environment. Although Spurlock's film has a US focus, it could be a precursor to what could experienced in the UK.
In an interview with BBC Breakfast Spurlock said that he contacted 650 brands to sponsor with for the film, but only 15 brands wanted to be involved and only one ad agency would help. In his words, "People are scared of the film." And he very well may be right when consumers realise how they are subjected to advertising under the guise of entertainment. I suppose there may be only one way to truly find out and that's to watch the film when released.
Ofcom has created product placement guidelines (serving UK consumers) with information and rules for consumers to be aware of. It also includes an Ofcom product placement information campaign video, that was broadcast on UK television to explain the new changes.
In the meantime, here's a little more free advertising for Spurlock's new documentary film below.
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold movie trailer
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