Altoona, take the money and run!

April 28, 2011

The city of Altoona, PA will become "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold," after being offered $25,000 for the naming rights for 60 days by the filmmaker Morgan Spurlock.

Spurlock’s latest documentary is about the fact that just about everything is sponsored by someone. He told The Associated Press, “Even when I’m standing at a urinal, chances are there’s an ad or video screen staring back at me. That used to be a little ‘me’ time that I had and would Iike to have it back.”

So, he is making this film as his little protest against sponsors, by getting sponsors to back his movie. Gosh, that would be like eating nothing but McDonald’s food for a month to prove you can get fat on it, which is what he did in the 2004 film “Super Size Me.”

The city of Altoona has little to fear. The money they receive will go to the police department. They are already getting a ton of publicity. The community will enjoy the spoof and hopefully a festive atmosphere for a couple of months.

Welcome Sign

The bigger gamble will be with the corporate sponsors. POM is spending $1 million to be the title sponsor and will obviously have some say in how they are treated. But I fear for secondary sponsors like Sheetz, Inc., a family-owned convenience chain store based in Altoona.

This is not a typical product placement in a Hollywood movie. Spurlock’s sarcasm is a very subjective thing. It can be funny or it can be destructive. Why would anyone bet the company brand on someone who could damage it?

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