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Film by:

Media Guide
Created by:
Michael Bui
July 9, 2017


Morgan Spurlock, of Super-Size Me fame, takes aim at the advertising indus-
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try with The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. This documentary centers on Morgans
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attempt to make a movie about product placement funded entirely by prod-

uct placement. As Morgan documents his attempts to have companies pay to
be included, viewers are left with insight as to the process of branding, prod-
uct placement, and the power of advertising across multiple mediums, cul-
tures and society. The documentary takes a unique look at the influence cor-
porations have over entertainment, music artists and education. Blended
throughout the documentary are product placement opportunities and com-
mercials as Morgan navigates the difficulty in maintaining artistic integrity
while reconciling the demands of his sponsors.
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Students will identify how media can be Students will purposefully create advertis-
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used to influence their daily lives ing media that focuses on the connection
between consumers personal brands and
Students will examine the impact that corporate products
constant exposure to advertisements or
products has on society Students will compare and contrast ways
corporation and people develop their
Students will take a position on the ethics own personal brand
of corporations having influence on inde-
pendent third-parties through the use of Students will analyze how
sponsorships, endorsements or donations neuromarketing is used in various media
forms to produce particular stimuli in
viewers relating to AIDA principles


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Risks associated with marketing a prod- Segmentation, targeting, and position-

uct, such as environmental impacts, ing of the market, and the promotion of
financial hardship, and emotional effects a products benefits
Forms of advertising that can influence Ways of marketing and promotion used
a potential customer to persuade the public to buy a product


How do advertisements present themselves to In each of the built in commercials Morgan stars
you in your everyday lives? in, explain how the commercial reinforces and
stays true to the brand of the respective com-
Do you consider music artists to be selling out panies?
when their music is used in advertisements?
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Explain. Consider the use of faction in commercials.

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Recall and state where you have seen instances

How does one maintain artistic and creative of faction being used in advertising and wheth-
control when they must answer to another par- er that made you more or less likely to listen to
ty? the advertisement?

What concerns do you have with the amount of AIscommon question brought up in the film was
there truth in advertising? Opinions were
influence that corporations have over the media
due to things like sponsorships? mixed on it. What are your thoughts?

Explain why or why not you think that product What biases may be apparent from the docu-
placement has an actual influence on peoples mentary considering these corporate sponsors
purchasing decisions? paid Morgan to appear in this film?

How often do you think people choose to pur- Did this film make you more aware of product
chase products from brands that they feel are placement in media or was it something you
similar to them? were already consciously aware of?

What concerning information does neuromar-

keting provide in relation to advertising?
BRANDING: Branding is establishing an identity for a product that differentiates it from the competition. Various
components such as name, logo and slogan help to create a brand identity (Keller & Lehmann, 2006). People learn
to become connected to a brand itself, not necessarily a certain product.
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The film shows how companies work hard to maintain their brand identity and are concerned about being involved
in pursuits that could negatively impact their brand. In various parts of the film, Morgan talks about different brands
and what they stand for. He also goes through an activity to identify his personal brand which is then used to try
and find companies he would have similar values to.

PRODUCT PLACEMENT: Product placement or co-promotion is a marketing technique used by companies to

subtly promote their products through a non-traditional advertising technique, usually through appearances in film,
television, or other media. Product placement can be an
extremely effective form of marketing for certain brands
and in many situations people are not consciously aware
of the impact product placement is having on their deci-
sion making (Zimmerman, 2013). This is also a popular
choice of promotion for corporations due to its lower cost
and potential wide reach (De Gregorio & Sung, 2010).

The essence of this film is around product placement,

which here is called Co-Promotion. The film takes a satiri-
cal approach at product placement by being over the top
in terms of promoting the sponsor's products while also
including commercials into the film itself.

CORPORATE INFLUENCE: The amount of influence that an individual corporation has over an individual, society, media, education or govern-
ment agency (Chasan, 2015). Corporations try to use their positioning and influence to encourage policy changes, determine the way they are por-
trayed through media, and this is done in order to create an environment where the corporation can have success (Chasan, 2015).

Throughout the movie, we gain insight into how corporations gain control over a film production through their sponsorships. The corporations are
able to influence the message that is being delivered and in some cases the look of the actual film itself in order to showcase their brand in a posi-
tive fashion. As a consumer, we dont often see the actual influence that corporations can have on seemingly independent sources, but the film
allows us to see the various restrictions that corporations can put on someone they are sponsoring.

EXPOSURE TO ADVERTISEMENT: As students consume and share content digitally,

they are participating in advertisement exposure whether they consciously want to or not and
so should be equipped to identify the impact and scope of advertising in their everyday lives.

This documentary demonstrates how people are bombarded with advertisements throughout
their lives. Morgan also features the influence of advertising on the American public school
system whereby many schools and administrators have become dependent and reliant on
corporate sponsorships and donations. This raises many ethical concerns about how much
power corporations are holding over schools and how much advertising students are subject-
ed to.

NEUROMARKETING: Morgan explores the relatively new area of neuromarketing by un-

dergoing an examination of the impact movie trailers and advertisements effects on his brain
using a fMRI. The combination of studying marketings effect on the mind has gained much
more traction in recent years. Bakardjieva and Kimmel (2017) define neuromarketing as the
use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) [in the] application of research into
consumer mental processes to marketing strategy and practice (p 2). Researchers are using these scans to determine what is the relationship, ef-
fects and impact on the brain when it is exposed to advertising or certain marketing stimulus.

In the Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Morgan highlights how fast food and violence have been conditioned to produce stimulus in the brain reminiscent
to addiction. Utilizing the actual research to manipulate consumer behavior touches upon important ethical concerns in the use of science in mar-

presented by:
This section Pre-Production Stage
Answer the following questions as quickly as you possibly can. You want to write down the first things that come
to mind. It may help to have someone else read the questions to you so that you do not overthink each question
and response.

1. What 3 words would I use to describe myself when I 4. What are your biggest fears?
first meet someone? 5. If you won the lottery and never had to work in your
2. What are your strengths and passions? life, how would you spend your time?
3. What 3 words would someone else use to describe
me, having just met me?
Production Stage
It is now time to craft your own brand. Begin by reading through your answers to the above questions and determine 3 characteristics that
are going to identify your personal brand. Once you have those three characteristics, answer the two questions below to start to craft your
brand statement. Your brand statement should be a 13 sentence statement that describes your personal brand.

1. How would you go about describing your brand? 2. What is your brand personality?

Now it is turn to build your brand up by creating a brand name, a logo and a slogan. These three things will be what represent your brand in
the eyes of the public so be sure to make them memorable and catchy! Use the following steps to help build your brand name, logo and

A good brand name is easy to read, pronounce, remember and is often short and simple. A logo makes your brand easy to remember, readi-
ly attracts attention and is appealing to the visual memory. A catchy slogan helps one remember a product and appeals to auditory memory.

Now imagine that you were taking on a role similar to Morgan Spurlock in the film. If you were going to try and find companies to sponsor
you, how would you sell yourself to them, what companies would you target? Pick three companies that you would try to target and explain
how they fit in well with your brand.

After identifying your own personal brand, you will use this information to select a brand you
identify with to create a 60-90 second commercial. You may work on this task in groups of 2-3.
At the end, you will be screening your assignment to the class. Begin with the steps below:

1. Select a brand that you identify with based off of their personal brand.

2. Write out a script and storyboard. Use this template as an exampleLINK. Dialogue should
be noted in the frames and setting and extraneous information in the lines below it.

3. Product Analysis Break down the target market of your product, the 4Ps and how your com-
mercial addresses the AIDA phases.

Ensure your commercial is between 60-90 seconds. You may use a smartphone to record your
commercial but be consistent. Make sure to take in the following to consideration: location,
lighting, angles, focus, and sound into your production.

Place your video files in a video editing program. Consider adding a music soundtrack to your
commercial. Here are some sources for sound you may use:

NoCopyrightSounds -;

Royalty Free Music -;

No Copyright Music -

Add a title at the beginning of your commercial and ending credits to provide credit to yourselves as well as any sources you
have used (which may include the song for the audio track). Make use of the video editing program to fine tune your com-
mercial. Split scenes and delete excess, or move material around by dragging it after splitting the scene. Add transitions if you
are moving from scene to scene so that the commercial is not jarring. You might also consider providing the narration but
this is optional.

Share your video by posting it to an platform such as YouTube.


presented by:
This section MORGANS TED TALK - YouTube Video Link
Morgan hosts a Ted Talk that integrates some parts of the film as he discusses the challenges in addressing
transparency in advertising and the media impressions his film has had even though by this time, it had not been
distributed yet. This could be used either as previewing or post viewing to extend the conversation
TEDXBEND - YouTube Video Link
The purpose of neuromarketing is to help discover what people want by measuring the physiological changes
that takes place in response to stimuli. Renvoise goes on to talk about the ways our minds are fooled and the
four psychological steps to follow for marketers using scientific stimuli. Lindell and Kidd (2013) have determined
that consumers (as in parents and students) are very susceptible to marketing that employs neuroscientific
claims, believing them to be much more accurate but not being able to properly evaluate those product claims.
This is related to the claims of faction from the documentary.

THE 4PS OF MARKETING - Purely Branded Article Link

This quick introduction of the marketing mix is an excellent quick snapshot as to what the 4Ps of marketing are and how they are used to
capture and market brands unique features and unique value proposition
EXAMPLES AND TIPS FOR USING AIDA - Smart Insights Article Link
This marketing concept model addresses the stages the consumer goes through from the point that an advertisement appears to successful
event in consumption of the product or service that is being advertised. This website identifies how to apply this strategy in an advertise-
This article highlights how some music artists have been able to Sell out and still retain
their brand as an artist versus some artists who have tried and failed in the same endeav-
or. This presents a lot of opportunities for students to choose their own artists to deter-
mine if they have sold out successfully or not.
This article showcases some infamous examples of product placement in film. These
placements became so prominent, the audience comes to see it as an integral part of the
film. This begs many questions as to the artistic integrity and freedoms of the writers and
directors in film and the exposure of product placement on the audience. For example, it
is seen that the increase of product placement exposure in film geared towards children, has a significant impact on their choices of food
consumption (Brown et al., 2017).


This article poses the question of whether having corporate sponsorship is suitable in education by examining Vancouvers decision to re-
fuse Chevron Sponsorship. It contrasts this decision with neighboring school district Surreys decision to accept. It is a good starting point to
a debate and conversation on the topic. Bakir, Blodgett and Salazar (2017) conducted a study with parents regarding the ethical implications
of corporate sponsorships and ultimately found that parents are much more receptive to advertiser involvement if student benefits are overt
and when this benefit is not contingent on being exposed to direct marketing.

Bakir, A., Blodgett, J. G., & Salazar, R. J. (2017). Corporate Sponsorships in Schools: Altruism and Ethical Judgments. Journal Of Promotion Management, 23(1), 80-99.
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Bakardjieva, E., & Kimmel, A. J. (2017). Neuromarketing Research Practices: Attitudes, Ethics, and Behavioral Intentions. Ethics & Behavior, 27(3), 179-200.

Brown, C. L., Matherne, C. E., Bulik, C. M., Howard, J. B., Ravanbakht, S. N., Skinner, A. C., & ... Perrin, E. M. (2017). Influence of product placement in children's movies on
children's snack choices. Appetite, 114118-124. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2017.03.022

Chasan, M. (2015, April 8). Corporate Influence & Transforming From a World Created for the Non-Living. Huffington Post. Retrieved from

De Gregorio, F., & Sung, Y. (2010). Understanding attitudes toward and behaviors in response to product placement. Journal of Advertising, 39(1), 83-96.

Keller, K. L., & Lehmann, D. R. (2006). Brands and branding: Research findings and future priorities. Marketing science, 25(6), 740-759.

Lindell, A. K., & Kidd, E. (2013). Consumers Favor "Right Brain" Training: The Dangerous Lure of Neuromarketing. Mind, Brain, And Education, 7(1), 35-39.