A white male, 25-54 years old, middle class and clean shaven, stands at a Sheetz gas pump, eating a fresh Sheetz sandwich and filling his car with reliable Sheetz fuel. He’s centered in the frame, being peppered with questions from an interviewer and pondering aloud over whether product placement is evil and what constitutes selling out. But his words are, secretly, just background noise, a muzak soundtrack to the visual. In reality, he’s the scenery; after all, he didn’t pay to be in the film. Sheetz did.
It’s about two thirds into Morgan Spurlock’s “Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” that the the filmmaker’s point about the overwhelming presence of markting in movies, and his clever way of making it, truly clicks. A deviously meta moment, it follows a large chunk of the “Supersize Me” documentary filmmaker’s attempts to sell advertising in a film to finance a film about advertising.
After hustling between boardroom meetings filled with cautious corporate executives and paranoid PR reps, Spurlock has convinced enough sponsors — Ban deodorant, Sheetz, Mini Cooper and Pom amongst the most prominent — to buy product placement in his documentary, which, of course, was being filmed as they speak, right there in that boardroom.