Big Year For Marketing In The Movies

June 28, 2011

It’s always fun to see your profession depicted in a film or TV show. The defunct TNT drama “Trust Me” was a great fictional account of agency life. Steve Martin was an ad man in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” God knows we’ve all been asked the “Mad Men” questions. This year is an especially interesting one for marketing-related themes in film.

In April, Morgan Spurlock, director of “Super Size Me”, released his documentary about product placement that was funded entirely by product placement. The film ended up being called “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” I didn’t see it while it was in theaters, but I’m intrigued by the premise and look forward to seeing it on DVD.

The concept is undoubtedly creative, but assuming that Spurlock wanted to be critical, I have my doubts about how clear his message can be with the brands that signed on presumably only doing so pending plenty of terms to protect them. After all, “Super Size Me” made audiences laugh and was widely seen, but it ultimately attacked McDonald’s.

The second unique concept that is coming to theaters soon is the Ridley Scott-produced “Life In A Day,” set to hit theaters July 24. It is not about marketing, but may be the biggest user-generated content project to date.

The project began with footage solicited for on YouTube. The film’s director, Kevin Macdonald, eventually ended up with over 80,000 submissions and 4,500 hours of video from 192 countries to create this movie about people’s lives on one day (July 24, 2010) from all over the globe. Crowdsourcing may never be the same.

Have you seen Spurlock’s documentary? Or what are some of the most memorable films, shows or books related to your field? I have a feeling these two projects have the potential to shape a whole new wave of conceptual documentaries, and possibly marketing campaigns.