Posted by: Dana Kelly | May 23, 2011

The Greatest Movie Ever….Sold?

I recently caught documentarian Morgan Spurlock on an episode of The Colbert Report promoting his newest film Pom Wonderful presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. The documentary is about product placements and the shameless advertising that many companies spend money on in an effort to promote their brand. The trailers for the film had me laughing, but it really prompted me to think about brands and the way that we develop loyalty for them. Keep in mind, I am no exception to brand loyalty! I love Apple products, Benefit makeup, and I refuse, let me reiterate, REFUSE, to buy Pepsi instead of Coke. How do we develop these emotional bonds to inanimate objects or services? Does the product placement in mainstream movies and/or television solidify our loyalties? There is a fine line between excessive product placement and subtlety, and I think that this movie is making a valid effort to expose the business of advertising and how relentless product placement is. I plan on seeing the film because I think it is so relevant to my public relations studies. It has me preemptively thinking, where must the promotional line start and stop?


  1. I think this is especially relevant when we take sports franchises into consideration. My home NFL team, the Oakland Raiders recently closed a deal that will change the name of their stadium from McAfee Colosseum (named after their old anti-virus software sponsor) to the Colosseum. Although this new sponsorship ruins the aesthetic of the name, it brought millions of dollars that will help lift Oakland sports out of the stagnation caused by the recession. At least in this case, it is important to consider the positive aspects of seemingly irrelevant promotional placement and think about how the placement affects all of the stakeholders involved.

  2. I haven’t heard of this documentary until now but it definitely has me thinking the same things you are. I am both an advertising and public relations major and ever since I have begun taking my courses at the U of O I have become very attentive to product placement in any sort of medium whether it be books, music, or television.

    At times I think it can definitely help a product. I know this because when watching a show and they call up Pizza Hut for some food and i am even the slightest bit hungry, I’m thinking about doing the same exact thing. Another good example is when products are used consistently in more than just one source of media. The iPhone is a great example of this. I can’t even count how many songs artists name drop iPhone which makes it even more desirable to me because I want to be included on what the artist is talking about and be able to do whatever they are doing on their phone.

    But like you said, this strategy can also epically fail and go over board. This happens when the product is over used and it is completely obvious that the media is placing a product in the program strictly for advertising purposes. A good example of this is American Idol. They are always playing short videos in the middle of the program that is of the group of contestants singing and dancing around a car. Let’s be real. It’s completely cheesy and we could honestly care less about the car they are dancing around. It’s not going to make us want it anymore than we do at that moment.

    I do believe though that when brands are subtle about their product placement and strategic when it comes to the type of media they use to promote their product, it can help substantially. As consumers, after everything is said and done, we all want to have the “hot” item and usually what we consider a “hot” item, it’s whatever the celebrities are using.

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