Morgan Spurlock’s latest movie premiered at Sundance this week, and it has gotten quite a bit of buzz. The “Super Size Me” director, famous for eating at McDonald’s three times a day for a month, turns his camera on the movie industry and its growing reliance on product placement to get movies made.
Spurlock admits it was a stroke of genius to not only expose the practice of product placement but to also use it to finance “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” He got 15 companies to pony up $1.5 million dollars. In exchange — it gets kind of meta here — he enables them to market their products and integrate brands into the film about corporate marketing, product placement and brand integration.
But what really makes “The Greatest Movie Ever Told” a must-see is Spurlock’s attention to advertising to kids.
I haven’t seen the movie — I don’t know if he takes on Happy Meal toys. But, according to Reuters, the funny movie strikes a serious note when his film about movies and advertising goes after corporations selling out kids as a way of paying for schools. Public schools.
“What will really take people back is the way advertising is starting to infiltrate the education system,” Spurlock said. “To make ends meet they are starting to sell advertising in schools…they are marketing to your kids in a classroom.”
Advertising to children is largely unregulated. Public schools all across the country are sorely underfunded. The second-largest school district in the nation — the Los Angeles Unified School District — recently agreed to look into allowing more advertising and selling naming rights in its various schools.
Maybe a movie like Spurlock’s will shine a light on these practices, I don’t know. I wonder if he’ll revisit his old stomping grounds, McDonald’s, and take a look at the Happy Meal toy bans starting to happen there.