AU MA Social Media

A class blog about social media.

Liveblog of Morgan Spurlock’s TED Talk

Posted by stephanielenore on June 5, 2013

Spurlock opens by grabbing the audiences attention through bold declarations about his history/qualifications as a TED speaker – “I went to prison – difficult!” And, along with images of fast food, “fun, difficult, dangerous!” He finally then explains the crux of his worldview/purpose of his work, which is to examine societal issues in engaging and entertaining ways. Ok, let’s see where this goes… 

Setting up a running allegory, Spurlock says that he attempted to sell the naming rights to his lecture on branding and sponsorship on eBay, and that he used social media to promote his product. Any takers? He doesn’t say, but one has to wonder why any brand would take the chance on his talk of unknown content. 

Ok, gimmick(s) now completely out of the way (one can only hope), maybe now we can actually talk about something?

Spurlock finally begins to launch into his talk by relating back to the danger of his opening statements; nothing, he says, comes as close to the difficulty or danger of meetings with PR firms.  Clips from his movie recount his adventures in attempting to pitch his film of transparency to agencies. Sponsorship will cost only $1.5 million – will anyone bite? Though the reaction of the agency execs is mixed, no one signs on the dotted line. 

Returning from the clips, Spurlock wonders aloud: in this fractured media landscape, isn’t the best  idea to the message to the masses? 

But Spurlock thinks he knows that is wrong and shows us the fatal flaw of idea – wait, what? Why is there an outtake from an SI swimsuit issue? Is that really what shows up when you do a Google search for transparency or is Spurlock going for the laugh? 

Ok, fine, transparency is scary – companies want to tell their story. But that’s how they make a profit, so that’s not necessarily inherently evil. There may be three sides to the truth, as Spurlock says, (yours, mine, and real), but they’re not all necessarily interesting. 

Hmmmm, yeah, kind of zoned out during the footage of Spurlock’s meeting with Ban deodorant. It’s “fresh?” Good job, group meeting participants.

Spurlock’s next few outtakes show footage of individual people being asked to describe their individual brand. Dark glamour? Check. Cracked out park goers claiming to represent Mercedes Benz? Double check. Their truth is definitely not my truth. 

The next clip shows a meeting with a brand analyst that leaves Spurlock’s mind spinning as much as the viewer’s. The following meeting seems designed to simplify the message – playing on brand icons to show the simplicity of the icon in relation to the brand image. 

Hey, look, Spurlock actually got some brands to sponsor his movie! Good job Old Navy and Pom! Now explaining his source of funding, Spurlock shows what he actually was able to document in his film – MRI technology being used to discover parts of the brain stimulated by branding, the city of San Paolo and it’s banning of all advertising, and school districts which have resorted to selling of sponsorships in order to fund programs. 

Great, this whole promo talk for Spurlock’s movie actually had a payoff! Oh wait, he’s still talking…

Spurlock credits the brands who sponsored the film for cutting their agencies out of the decision-making process, and for taking a risk with the movie. Risks, he says, come with opportunities. And then there are some stats about how much media attention the movie has received. At this point haven’t we seen most of the clips, just from this talk?

This post, like Spurlock’s talk, has apparently been brought to you by EMC. 


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