Altoona Premiere & Publicity Stunt
The grand finale for Morgan Spurlock’s new documentary POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold included an announcement about purchasing the naming rights for Altoona, Pennsylvania. In what may be the “Greatest” publicity stunt documentaries have ever seen, as of April 27th 2011, a $25,000 contract legally binds the small town of Altoona to a sixty-day name change, with its new moniker being POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Pennsylvania.
Just as the documentary is about “product placement, marketing, and advertising… made possible by product placement, marketing, and advertising," so was the film’s premiere. For the opening night in Altoona, Pennsylvania, the filmmaker -- along with his sponsors and press entourage (myself included) -- were flown in on a "Greatest" chartered flight sponsored by Jet Blue airlines. On board the flight everyone was offered the POM sponsored “Greatest POMtinis” and “POMamosas,” and the town greeted everyone with the “Greatest” marching band, a cheering crowd, Sheetz-sponsored catered meals, POM Wonderful’s beverages, and a red carpet.
Nothing about this day was ordinary, especially not the red carpet arrivals. Instead of arriving in limousines, celebrities -- including the Mayor of Altoona -- made their appearance in Sheetz Hummers and trucks provided by one of the film’s biggest sponsors.
While the new town name is a bit of a tongue twister, all locals attending the premiere expressed their enthusiasm for the project. Everyone seemed to appreciate the "Greatest" publicity for the town, as well as the $25,000 naming rights check, which is supposed to go toward the retirement fund of the Altoona police department. Overall, it was undoubtedly one of the “Greatest” days Altoona, now POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Pennsylvania, has ever seen.