Apart from seeming like one of the friendliest people to walk the earth, documentarian Morgan Spurlock – the man with the 30 Day fixation – is fond of teaching us what we already know.
Following up his feature-length experiment with a certain fast food chain in Super-Size Me, Spurlock has turned to the power of product placement – or, as it’s now more sterilely known, “co-promotion”. As 4 companies spent 75% of last year’s total advertising (totalling $412 billion dollars), the commercial trend towards co-promotion is an idea worth investigating. Using a meta approach, the film is entirely funded by product placement. Taking place in meeting rooms across America, Spurlock’s pitches explain the film’s concept as he traverses the landmine site of brand personalities and tricky contracts.
While there are tidbits of interesting theories of advertising from the likes of Ralph Nader and of artistic integrity from various blockbuster directors, it comes as no surprise when Spurlock’s seemingly forward-thinking brands of choice revert with immediacy to stock marketing techniques and safe-bet advertising. A visit to Sao Paulo also serves the story well, throwing into sharp relief the sheer pervasive presence of advertising in our daily lives.
Though there’s not much to be learned, Spurlock’s dependably sharp ideas and jocularity shine through. Though he glosses over moments of frustration and confusion, his simple presentation provide facts to chew on, sending you back into the world feeling a little more aware of what’s around you. Throwaway but enjoyable, it’s documentary lite.
Read more: The Help Review; Footloose Review.