Morgan Spurlock (he who ate only McDonald's for a month) returns with a documentary that aims to unveil the world of advertising and product placement in movies, while also including advertising and product placement within the doco. It’s a catchy, meta idea to the concept that I’m not sure entirely pays off.
Product placement in film and television is rife nowadays, and this documentary just feels a little behind the times. I’m sure most people recognise and realise how prevalent this revenue-booster is, even if they don’t catch every single instance of it. Then again, maybe they don’t. Maybe I just assume this due to my own interest in film and television and the issues surrounding these money-spinning entertainments. In any case, product placement is everywhere; obvious and not.
Spurlock sets about finding sponsors in his own, recognisable way. He heads to a consulting firm, to find out what his “brand identity” is and engages professionals to help sell him and the movie to sponsors. He cold calls and pitches to a number of corporates, both big and small. He does it with a wink and a smirk - the Spurlock personality is big part of the film and depending on how much he appeals to you, will decide whether this film is for you or not. I personally don't mind Spurlock, but the initial hook starts to become a big part of the film; so much so it almost obfuscates the genuine discussion around advertising and product placement that could be taking place.
The film wanders a little when going into digressions about advertising in general - though the visit to advertising free city Sao Paulo is an intriguing one. Overall, as an exploration into product placement, advertising and branding in entertainment/art there is nothing terribly surprising. I, personally, would have preferred to see more people directly involved in the business - screenwriters, directors, producers - but understand that they were unwilling to talk on camera. Spurlock is aiming for the widest audience possible here, which is somewhat suitable and works. His stated aim was to just get people thinking about advertising; to become more aware of it. And, if that was his only goall, I believe he achieved it.