News / USA

'Super Size Me' Director Tackles Product Placement in Movies

Morgan Spurlock examines whether such agreements undermine artistic integrity

Morgan Spurlock in his latest documentary, 'Pom Wonderful: The Greatest Story Ever Sold,' which focuses on product advertisement in film and television.
Morgan Spurlock in his latest documentary, 'Pom Wonderful: The Greatest Story Ever Sold,' which focuses on product advertisement in film and television.

Multimedia

Penelope Poulou

In his new documentary "Pom Wonderful: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold," director Morgan Spurlock satirizes corporate product placement in film and television, showcasing the process in which filmmakers help fund their productions by making deals to place products in their films.

Spurlock, who subsisted for a month on a McDonald's diet for  his previous movie "Super Size Me," believes that, in making these kinds of deals, filmmakers put their own credibility at risk.

Spurlock decided to zoom in on product advertisement in films and TV series after watching an episode of "Heroes," his favorite TV show.

"In one episode, Hayden Panettiere, the cheerleader, comes out of school. Her birthday is coming up and her dad says 'Honey, your mom and I were really proud of you.' And he reaches in his pocket and as he does he pulls out a set of keys. It cuts to the front of the car, passes the Nissan logo, back to her, the keys are held in front of her face, the focus on her face as she goes 'Ah! The Rogue? The Nissan Rogue? Oh my gosh! I can't believe you're giving me the Rogue! It's the Rogue!’ I was so completely dumbfounded because it was like 'Wow. That just happened. I really watched a commercial in the middle of the show right now.'"

Spurlock decided to make a film all about product placement, marketing and advertising where the entire film is funded by product placement, marketing and advertising. With his usual dry humor, Spurlock takes viewers along as he meets with marketing directors to get funding for his latest film. Even though Spurlock offers to place products in his documentary, he's repeatedly turned down.

In the documentary, Spurlock asks an advertising executive, "Is it a tough sell because of the film or because of me?" The executive answers, "Both."

"The companies were saying 'Listen, I already saw what you did to that company,'" says Spurlock, referring to McDonald’s in his movie "Super Size Me." "'Why do I want to help you with this movie?' It was an uphill battle."

Spurlock finally strikes a deal with juice manufacturer Pom Wonderful. Once Pom Wonderful forked over funds, other companies followed. The film is funny but it also throws light into the dark corners of contemporary marketing.

"They put people in MRIs and they show you commercials. They see how your brain reacts to the commercial," Spurlock says. "Then, they re-edit the commercial so it hits very targeted desire centers of your brain that will respond to fear or craving or sex, whatever they may be."

According to Spurlock, most films get some of their funding from product placement. He says, for example, the blockbuster "Ironman" showcased more than 100 products throughout the film. However, he warns such agreements can undermine artistic integrity.

"You start dealing with studios and network television and ultimately these companies are in the writer’s room. They are telling you what the dialogue should say."

Spurlock says he maintained creative control of his film. He doesn't discourage filmmakers from striking agreements with corporations as long as they do the same.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs