If you've ever wondered about the effects of product placement in films on consumerism, this is the film for you!
Morgan Spurlock set out to make a film that exposed the insidious nature of product placement by financing itself entirely through product placement! The result is a highly entertaining journey through the whole process of finding sponsors, coming to agreements with them about their involvement in the film and giving them their slice of screen time. The viewer sits in on the pitches Spurlock makes to the sponsors and finds out details in the ensuing contracts (such as Spurlock can only be seen to drink the juice made by the drinks manufacturer that is the headline sponsor of the film) and then the results of the contracts are clearly visible in the finished film (indeed he is only seen to drink the one type of soft drink, though he did drink a coffee from an unmarked mug on at least one occasion).
The film also looks at marketing and watches the process of advert design. Part of the film involves a discussion with high school students about how they see marketing and advertising and then a discussion with the staff from the same school around the problems of making income for the school without selling out to big corporations. This leads to the makers of the film making donations to the school in return for adverts for the film being placed in the school buses and on billboards round the school. The film itself of course fits in with the class discussions around marketing and advertising and questions the whole notions of corporate school sponsorship, so there's a nice circular thing going on there.
It's an eye-opening film, and many viewers will find themselves keeping a beady eye out for product placements in future films they watch as well as becoming more aware of the myriad ways corporations are constantly selling stuff to us. It also unearths a wonderfully bizarre product - a shampoo that can be used both by people and horses - which inspires a particularly amusing scene.
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is showing at the Cameo in Edinburgh until Thursday.