Masters Golf and Product Placements

OK. I’m not much of a golfer. For me it really is a “good walk spoiled.” So I haven’t been on the links for years. I’ll admit though to watching the Masters championship on TV. Hey, short of watching paint dry, what could be more relaxing?

And yesterday’s winner, Bubba Watson, appears to be both an excellent golfer and decent person. If you can knock one onto the green a few feet from the hole during a playoff while standing in mulch in a parking lot with millions watching, then you deserve a green jacket.

Of course, few stories have totally happy endings for me these days. And while I was draining my second Jameson, it occurred to me that pro golfers have essentially become the human equivalent of the cars in Nascar races. Both are covered with product endorsements and sponsorship logos. I’m sure the golfing pros are getting paid well for being a walking billboard, but wouldn’t it be easier — and at a championship like the Masters less tacky — just to wear a sandwich board and stroll up and down the fairways?

Wonder if Morgan Spurlock was watching yesterday? His documentary — The Greatest Movie Ever Sold — looks at the increasing use of product placements in films, on television and in real life. Here’s from USA Today:

After the premiere of The Greatest Movie Ever Soldat the Sundance Film Festival this weekend, corporate sponsors featured in the film trooped up on stage to join director Morgan Spurlock, who wore a suit emblazoned with their brand names and logos.

The documentary by Spurlock, best known for 2004’s Super Size Me, is an exploration of product placement. And it’s financed entirely by product placement.

Jumping off a point made by academic experts who said advertisers try to make consumers feel they can’t be happy without a certain product, Spurlock announced: “I’m 40% happier.”

And he has something else to be happy about. The film was purchased for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics, the first acquisition of the 10-day Sundance festival. It’s scheduled to open in theaters in April.

The sponsors represented included Pom juice, JetBlue, Ban deodorant, Mini Cooper, Hyatt hotels and the island of Aruba.

“We tried to get money from everybody,” said Spurlock. “We called 500 to 600 brands. Ultimately we ended up with 15 in the movie.”

Some wouldn’t even entertain the idea of being in the film.

“We tried to get BP to come and sponsor us,” Spurlock said. “Because if anybody needs a brand makeover, it’s BP.”

Spurlock said he got the idea two years ago when watching an episode of Heroes in which Hayden Panettiere‘s character was given a car by her father and kept repeating the model, Nissan Rogue, over and over.

“Ban was the first sponsor to sign on,” he said. “Then everybody else came on. That’s how much power Ban deodorant has.”

The film’s tagline: “He’s not selling out. He’s buying in.”

Next thing you know James Bond will be drinking beer — instead of a dry martini, shaken, not stirred.


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