‘Supersize Me’ director makes ‘Greatest Film’

In 2004, the world was no longer able to deny the fact that they knew was true: McDonald’s, even the healthy choices, are absolutely horrible for you. Of course we all knew this, but it was Morgan Spurlock’s fascinating, slightly nauseating documentary Super Size Me that really drove the point home. The effects of the movie, in which Spurlock vows to eat only McDonald’s for all 3 meals for a 30 day period, were momentous both in terms of the consumers and the company. The low-budget, “experimental” film went on to win the Sundance Film Festival’s top documentary director award as well as get nominated for an Oscar. More than that, this film has been treated like a precious warning for  future generations. Most impressive was McDonald’s response to the film. After news of the documentary was released, McDonald’s went into PR Crisis mode. The day before the documentary was scheduled to open, McDonald’s added the “Go Active” adult happy meals to their menu. Soon enough, even their advertisements were focusing on “healthier choices,” a trend that is still seen today. But perhaps most interesting is McDonald’s decision to remove the forever tainted option of “super-sizing” a meal from their repertoire. These were the first steps toward a gradual,long-anticipated revolution in the fast food world.

It’s nearly 7 years later and Spurlock is about to release his second documentary, also at the Sundance Festival which is currently going on. For his latest film, known as The Greatest Film Even Sold, Spurlock decided to investigate the world of product placement and brand integration. Spurlock quite literally financed this entire film, a $1.5 million venture, by contracted with 15 companies. Due to these contractual obligations, Spurlock decided to change the official name of the film to POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (anyone else really craving pomegranate juice all of a sudden?).

With a film financed entirely by brand name companies, it would be easy to assume that either Spurlock or these companies would seem like a bit of a…well, sell out. In response to a statement from EW asking Spurlock if he felt he was “risking essentially selling out [his] own movie,” Spurlock laughs in response: “I’m not selling out–I’m buying in!”

And the companies? The whole premise of the movie came from Spurlock’s distaste for the blatant, in-your-face product placements/integrations that plague television and film– wouldn’t the companies be the enemy? In the same interview, Spurlock responds: “The companies who were willing to come on board this movie wind up looking great because they had the balls to take part.” Proving, that the ability to laugh at oneself is an important key in both business (especially PR) and life.

Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, which is already receiving warm reviews, can be expected to layer on the humor while also revealing a unique look at an interesting subject. I wonder what kind of effect this film will have on the marketing world?

Find out more:

PRWeek: Sold on the greatest movie ever sold

EW interview

Wire Tap Magazine: Weighing the Impact of Supersize Me

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Oh, Sugar! [High Fructose Corn Syrup gets an Image Makeover]

High Fructose Corn Syrup.

The name itself strikes fear into the hearts of mothers around the country. Even the First Lady Michelle Obama has publicly admitted to not wanting her own children eating it.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is associated with a number of negative impressions. Conflicting reports tell us that the ingredient is carcinogenic one day, healthy the next. One account says it’s a leading cause of obesity while the next says it’s no worse than any other forms of sugar. The conflicting communications have led to cognitive dissonance in the general population. We’re not sure what to believe, what to trust.

To remedy the negative perception of high fructose corn syrup, the Corn Refiners Association has asked the federal government for permission to officially change the ingredient’s name to “Corn Sugar.”

The image “makeover” campaign has kicked off, with the introduction of CornSugar.com, a community where curious consumers can learn more about the “real” High Fructose Corn Syrup.  The website proclaims:

There is a lot of information available online about high fructose corn syrup, and along with it, a lot of misinformation. We want to make sure that consumers have access to credible research and science-based information in order to make informed decisions about added sugars in the diet, including high fructose corn syrup or corn sugar.

The website includes testimonials from groups and individuals such as the FDA, Informational Food Information Council, a Mayo Clinic Nutritionist, and other experts in the fields of health and food. These endorsements lend a much-needed source credibility to a subject that remains confusing for many consumers.

So will it work? Previous product renaming has worked in the past.

  • Successful? In 1988, low eurcic acid rapeseed oil became what we know today as “canola oil”
  • Unsuccessful? In 2000, Prunes decided to ditch their dull name for “dried plums”

With a strong public campaign, High Fructose Corn Syrup might just become the more linguistically pleasing Corn Sugar. Steering clear of the past associations with obesity, diabetes, and various forms of cancer, Corn Sugar will focus on its healthy and natural connections.

The website includes frequently asked questions, plain facts, and even a video gallery showcasing the campaign’s television commercials.  Contact information for further questions and concerns is also available.

Further Reading & References:

http://healthland.time.com/2010/09/14/high-fructose-corn-syrup-might-get-a-makeover/

www.CornSugar.com