Last night I sat down to watch The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. It's a documentary about product placement, marketing and advertising. Completely funded by product placement, marketing and advertising.
Let me start by saying that I find the concept completely brilliant, but I've seen brilliant concepts before that failed miserably in execution. Fortunately Morgan Spurlock, best known for Supersize me, followed through here. He begins with a discussion and demonstration of how product placement deals are made, allowing the viewer to sit in on negotiations with ad execs. I found this particularly interesting, notably the reluctance of any companies to sign a deal until some other companies are on board first, as well as the concern as to how their brand would be portrayed. Many marketers seemed overly concerned that Morgan would make the company look bad, despite the fact that they would be paying his salary.
In the second act, the documentary moves on to a discussion of the ubiquity of advertising in society, it's psychological effect, and it's effectiveness. One marketing firm went so far as to administer MRIs to subject while showing them various ads in order to view the effects on the brain. I had no idea that so much effort went into selling me products.
What really made this movie most enjoyable, though, was Morgan Spurlock's humor. Even during negotiations he wasn't afraid to crack jokes and keep things light. It was laugh out loud funny at times and contained more humor than a lot of comedies. It is well worth an hour and a half of your time.
In the extras on the DVD, Morgan Spurlock asked a lot of people what their favorite commercial of all time was. Some people mentioned the famous Apple 1984 ad. Others the Coke ad where Mean Joe Green gives a kid his jersey. Others the Wendy's 'where's the beef' ads. For me, however, hands down the best commercial ever made was the Tivo ad starring Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott. I still use the phrase 'boy howdy' from time to time as a result.