Altoona, Pennsylvania Sells Itself to Morgan Spurlock

Super Size Me’s Morgan Spurlock has another one of his investigative documentaries making the rounds of the festival circuit and about to be released in theaters. This time his subject is ad culture and the out of control way that corporate branding is taking over our lives. In a sort of Meta exercise, Spurlock funded the movie entirely on corporate endorsements and sponsorship deals. What a cheeky monkey. But the biggest stunt ever pulled in the history of this film’s promotion is to come on April 27th when Spurlock turns the tables and does some sponsoring of his own.

The struggling town of Altoona, PA has agreed to rename their burg “POM Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold” after Spurlock’s upcoming documentary POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Suddenly I’m feeling like this story has so many layers that I need Christopher Nolan to come explain it to me. But, concrete details: there will be a ceremony on April 27th at Altoona City Hall at 1PM where the name change will officially take place, followed by a screening of Spurlock’s film afterwards at the Jaffa Shrine, and the name change is set to last for 60 days.

On why he is pulling this stunt, Spurlock said, “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the shifting tide of business in America than by purchasing the naming rights to Altoona. For the next 60 days, POM Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold, PA will be the most clever example of how an American city is marketing itself today.” Does anyone else read that word “clever” as being loaded with sarcasm? Yeah. This whole stunt is kind of fun. But why on Earth would a city agree to this and risk destroying its reputation? POM Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold mayor Bill Schirf says, “Altoona has a rich history and a great story to tell.  Morgan is giving us a platform to show the world the hidden treasure found in the Altoona community. Clearly, the people of Altoona have a sense of humor…and an asking price.”

In all my travels I’ve never been to any town where everybody had a sense of humor. Something tells me that Schirf is going to be getting a lot of angry voice mails from old ladies in the next few weeks. Hopefully he at least uses some of Spurlock’s money to help revitalize downtown. I hear that it has hit tough times due to the outlying big box stores putting the squeeze on small businesses in the town center. Ugh, so many layers! Where is Ellen Page to explain?

Source: Press Release

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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