Now that the filmmaker has recovered from eating only McDonald’s for a month, Morgan Spurlock is tackling another corporate beast: product placement. His newest movie, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, comes out nationwide tomorrow, and is a documentary fully financed by and about product placement. Spurlock hopes the film, which screened at SXSW and comes out nationwide tomorrow, will inspire more of us to fight for better boundaries between our personal lives and corporate sponsorship. And it’s not just for the sake of rebellion; it’s something he says could make us healthier and happier, too.
The film, sponsored by JetBlue Airways, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Sheetz Convenience Stores, Merrell Shoes, Amy’s Kitchen, THAYERS Natural Remedies, Seventh Generation, Ban® Deodorant, MovieTickets.com, CARRERA Sunglasses/Solstice Sunglass Boutique, The Original Mane ‘n Tail and the Aruba Tourism Authority, includes footage of Spurlock’s meetings with corporate sponsors to reveal what really goes into the advertising we see on screen. And it’s not just in TV and movies; Spurlock points out that advertising invades nearly every aspect of our lives. (When he asks Ralph Nader where we can go to find a marketing-free zone, Nader replies: “to sleep.”)
While most of us believe that we’ve learned to “filter out” the advertising online, on billboards, or even in films and tv (but hey, did we mention those yoga pants we love?), Spurlock believes they still have a negative impact on our lives. In a recent interview on AlterNet, he points out that reducing the amount of product placement in public spaces could leave room for more, better things in our lives:
I think at some point there will be a backlash to the amount of marketing and advertising in our world. I think most people don’t know about Sao Paolo and what they’ve done, which is banning outdoor advertising within city limits. The whole idea behind the Clean City Act was the mayor said, “We have a city that’s filled with pollution and filled with problems. Before we can see those problems, we need to eliminate the distractions.” So now once they took away what he calls the visual pollution, now people will be able to see what else needs to be fixed. The way you go there and interact with that city now is incredible. You react with people differently. You react with the environment differently because it’s not all about trying to sell you a widget. I think a city in America, like Seattle or Portland or even San Francisco, might try that.
We like some products, and there are brands that everyone here at Blisstree would be thrilled to have sponsor our site (any takers?), but I do think he makes a good point. I have a hard enough time managing my inbox(es), RSS feed(s), and IM window(s) while I’m at work, let alone the constant influx of advertising that comes along with each and every one of those things (even Skype is trying to sell me on whatever long-distance deals they have going right now). Would my life be a little more sane, possibly, without those things? Would walking to the park for lunch be more pleasant without 15 companies trying to sell me shoes, travel, food, and drinks? Just as Spurlock (and Sao Paulo) thinks, I have to agree: It wouldn’t just be more pleasant, it would be more productive, happier, and possibly a little healthier, too.
Check out the move trailer, below: