Thursday, April 28, 2011

Star Renames Historic PA Town, at What Price?

Morgan Spurlock, the sarcastic documentarian behind Supersize Me, has arranged to have Altoona, PA renamed "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" for 60 days, named for his latest tongue in cheek documentary.

While making the point that everything in America has a price, targeting a struggling town of 31,000 with big money and Hollywood fame might say more about the film maker than it does about America's willingness to sell out.

New York and Los Angeles are the country's greatest harbingers of capitalism. Washington, DC is globally synonymous with anxiety. Had a member of America's trifecta of internaional PR leased their brand to Spurlock for two months, his message might be more justified.

But Altoona?

The Smithsonian has never been branded. Many of Philadelphia's museums have corporate sponsors responsible for their survival, and in return ask for little more than a brass plaque. City planners have been struggling to transform our Market East corridor, and advertising has emerged as a dynamic solution.

In a nation on the verge of bankruptcy, should we really turn our noses to coroprations offering to save zoos, libraries, and schools? It's not a new concept. Wrigley Field?

While the movie hasn't made its way to PA yet, Spurlock's message remains unclear. What is clear is that his choice to bribe Altoona is opportunistic, even predatory. It's a cheap shot. While Altoona and its residents have every right to oppose the town's decision, Spurolck is using the system he's complaining about to do what the system is designed for: to make money.

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