AU MA Social Media

A class blog about social media.

The Greatest TED Talk Ever Sold?

Posted by vickydanqingzhang on June 6, 2013

Morgan Spurlock, the documentary maker best known for his highly controversial documentary “Super Size Me” produced 9 years ago, was invited to the TED talk introducing his new documentary “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” in 2011. Some of the key points and interesting facts from this TED talk are as follows:

Morgan Spurlock speaking at the February 28 - ...

1. The onstage naming rights for this talk were sold on eBay to EMC for $7100.

2. In Spurlock’s new film “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold,” he focused on examining the hidden but influential world of brand marketing and advertising.

3. Spurlock’s idea of this film is to produce a movie entirely funded by product placement, marketing and advertising. In the other words, the film will be branded from beginning to end.

4. Spurlock had difficult time selling his idea of the film. None of the film companies or PR agencies he reached wanted to do this project with him.

5. Spurlock said it would take 1.5 million to do this film project.

6. Spurlock realized that failing to sell his film idea was because of the one fatal “flaw” the idea had – transparency.

7. Only one company was willing to help Spurlock and it was because the owners were his friends for long time.

8. Spurlock found a company called Olson Zaltman to help him discover his own brand personality. Results showed that there were two distinct, but complementary sides to Spurlock’s brand personality  – mindful/playful brand.

9. Up attribute people like things that are fresh, playful, contemporary, and adventurous. Down attribute people are more calm, reserved, and conservative.

10. Spurlock ended up getting 17 brand partners for his film.

11. The film “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and had 900 million media impressions in two and a half weeks.

12. Spurlock believes that risks are opportunities and embracing risks and transparency is the power to move forward.

I have not seen the film “The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” yet. At first I thought this film satirizes the trend of making films with too many commercials inside. Surprisingly, it turns out that being branded is the whole concept of the film. Later, I understood that Spurlock was arguing that every company should be transparent to audience and embrace risks. As mentioned in the talk, there are three sides to every story: your story, my story, and the real story. Spurlock wants to tell a real story in this film; however, the companies he reached just want to tell their story. To those companies, transparency is scary in business practices.

With funny footages from his film and interesting pictures in slides, Spurlock’s TED talk is fun to watch; however, after viewing it, I did not find this TED talk as an eye-opener as I expected. What is the connection between discovering one’s own brand personality with being transparency? Why not sponsoring his film equals to not being transparency? What is the relationship of embracing risks and being transparency? Those are the questions this talk should have explained to audience. Today, there are so many creative and effective branding strategies a company can choose from. Sponsoring an unpredictable documentary film is definitely not the only choice. I can totally understand those companies that turned down Spurlock’s request. The risks Spurlock asked them to embrace were unnecessary. The idea of uncovering the world of branding and marketing is brilliant; however, Spurlock failed to make a strong and convincing point from his observation. I am sorry, Spurlock, but this is not the greatest TED talk ever sold.


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