I walked out of Morgan Spurlock's POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold last night feeling pretty nauseated.
But that was only because I sat too close to the screen and the constant camera panning and zooming made me ill.
If you have a job in marketing or advertising, or work in media and entertainment, you already know the message at the base level of this film. Corporate dollars make things happen, in more ways than most consumers realize.
Go a little deeper and you may conclude what Oscar Wilde wrote over a century ago: "there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." Many of the brands participating the film seem to have selected this route, e.g. Ban deodorant as a challenger brand.
However, pay close attention and you'll end up at the question at the heart of the film's inquiry: what is true brand transparency? Perhaps for one or two of the film's sponsors, participation declares their commitment to this ideal. The scenes with POM's Resnick are illustrative of this.
The essence of Spurlock's message is contained in this TED talk:
But what does transparency mean for you? Will you open a truly objective ear to both brand praise and criticism? Can you promote your brand with whole, not half, truths? Do you espouse the same ideals as your brand's public positioning and if not, will you resign?
I believe that there's a social business message in Spurlock's story. It's about connections, culture, content, and clarity. For some brands, the thought of being on screen in a capacity that transparent is clearly enough to drive corporate nausea.