Many of you might remember Morgan Spurlock from the controversial film Super-Size Me, a movie directed, written and starred by him. The project consisted of a one month experiment, in which he had to eat 3 times a day just products from McDonald’s menu and to walk a maximum of 5000 steps, which at the time the production was made it was the average an American citizen walked in a normal day. Living a sedentary life and consuming junk food, he succeeded to prove the impact in the human body from consuming McDonalds’ products. With his movie Spurlock managed to make the fast food industry tremble, reinvent and change strategy.
After his big success Morgan came back offering an interesting documentary called “Pom wonderful presents: The greatest movie ever sold”, about one of the most controversial topics in marketing; product placement, which is defined by the European Union as “any form of audiovisual commercial communication consisting of the inclusion of or reference to a product, a service or the trade mark thereof so that it is featured within a programme”. Noteworthy to mention that, even though this film talks about the topic in a superficial manner, it shows in an entertaining way how product placement is done.
Nevertheless, product placement is not the only attractive characteristic of the movie but its co-creation features in which the clients sponsoring the project participate in the creation of the documentary serving as an “operant resource” being active participants in relational exchanges and coproduction (Vargo and Lush 2004). The project relied on the fact that the production of the movie would be totally financed by the firms and on its product placement in almost every scene of the movie. The process of interviewing the customers/firms, while discussing their wishes about the information included in the movie about their products, became the actual material of the movie transforming the clients into the actors.
The project starts by defining the kind of personality traits that Morgan possesses as a brand, hence associations that will be transferred to the movie, once this point was clear the search for sponsors began, where just those companies that have core values and characteristics alike to those of Morgan would be approached. Consistency and similarity between endorsers and firms in a sponsorship relation are fundamental, given the occurrence of an association effect (Gwinner, K., & Eaton, J. 1999). One of the products that matched these characteristics was “Mane ‘n Tail” a shampoo suitable for people and horse’s hair”.
Furthermore, the controversial production even managed that one city in America changed its name for 2 months to the name of the movie, insted of Altoona Pensylvania, the city became POM Wonderful Presents; The greates movie ever sold, Pensylvania.
Full with illustrative interviews, negotiations with sponsor and even a fast illustration of how the studies of the brain are done for neuromarketing purposes, the movie represents a clear example of how far the customers can get involved in the development of the product, even becoming the product themselves.
Carolina I. Caballero C. 359706
Stephen L. Vargo and Robert F. Lush (2004), “Evolving to a New Dominant Logic for Marketing”, Journal of Marketing.
Gwinner, K., & Eaton, J. (1999). Building Brand Image Through Event Sponsorship: The Role
of Image Transfer. Journal of Advertising, 28(4), 47-57.