On Friday, April 22, POM Wonderful hits the silver screen as the title sponsor in the new film POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, directed by Morgan Spurlock. The concept is incredibly clever: a documentary film about product placement in movies and television —paid for by product placement. The movie was a huge hit at Sundance, where it premiered, and since then it has garnered millions of media impressions—The New York Times, Hollywood Reporter, and a cover story in Fast Company.
With all the positive buzz about the movie, we look like geniuses for signing up to be the title sponsor. Assume nothing. Why did POM Wonderful decide to take a risk and partner with Morgan Spurlock, best known for his take-down of McDonald’s in Super Size Me?
Simply because, just like everyone else, we wanted to be in the movies! Morgan’s thesis for the film bares all the secrets of product placement, transparently. The audience is given an inside peek at the decisions made by marketing executives when placing their products in film or television. Our brands are iconic; we don’t have to pay for product placement. When you see POM or FIJI in a film or a television show, it likely happened organically.
Of course, Morgan can sell movies about ice formations to the Eskimos. He pitched us that we were the gold standard of a BRAND, therefore we should be the title sponsor. He was attracted to our “honesty, transparency and value.” I was happy to accept this compliment, never realizing that just about every door on Madison Avenue had closed in his face.
One of the great things about being privately held is that we can take risks that other companies can’t if they have to answer to a board of directors or “the street.”
POM has always had a personality—from its sexy little bottle to its cheeky advertising. While we are very serious about promoting good health, we try not to take ourselves too seriously. We liked the idea of being in on the joke, and glad we weren’t the butt of it. Timing and placement are everything.
We live in a world of false promises. POM is transparent; this is the raison d’être of our brand. There has been a massive shift in the way brands are viewed and evaluated by the public. And transparency represents the lens through which this new landscape is rapidly coming into focus. It used to be said that honesty was the best policy. But in this new transparent century, where Web and social media sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube spread news and information to millions of people in an instant, honesty is the only policy. Why? Because the truth will come out, eventually.
With all the positive buzz about the movie, we look like geniuses for signing up to be the title sponsor.
As for agreeing to be the title sponsor, that decision was simple. If we were going to do this, why not go all the way? With so many marketing messages competing through the clutter for attention, we are constantly looking for ways to create content and get our brand in front of consumers in new and innovative ways.
The truth is, product placement is an important part of the marketing mix. As the film business struggles and television viewership continues to fracture, producers realize that product placement is a viable revenue source and marketers appreciate the rich combination of celebrity and seemingly organic environments.
We had no creative control over the film. Morgan came to our offices several times during filming and taped hours of interaction with our marketing team. He was funny, charming and full of ideas about the direction of where he wanted to take his film. At one point, he even convinced me to recite lines in front of a green screen so that I could pop up miniaturized on his shoulder whispering into his ear as his conscience throughout the film.
We saw the final cut when the world saw it (and I have to admit that I’m a bit relieved that my role as Morgan’s “voice of reason” was left on the cutting room floor). It was a wild experience and we couldn’t be more pleased with the result.
Did the decision to participate pay off? You bet it did. We’ve gotten tons of press because of the film. We’ve created an integrated marketing campaign around the film. Morgan has a bottle of POM with him in every media interview. The town of Altoona, Pa., is renaming itself POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, PA. You can’t buy that kind of publicity.
Dubbed the PomQueen, Lynda Resnick owns POM Wonderful. Along with her husband Stewart, she also owns Paramount Farms and Paramount Citrus Companies. Resnick acquired FIJI Water in 2004, and continues to build brands, such as Everybody's Nuts , Wonderful Pistachios and Cuties brand mandarin oranges. Lynda is Vice Chairman of Los Angeles County Museum of Art's Board of Trustees. She is the author of the bestselling book Rubies in the Orchard: How to Uncover the Hidden Gems in your Business.