New documentary does a Super Size Me on media manipulation
LONDON - A new documentary is promising to be the 'Super Size Me' of the marketing and advertising industries, showing what happens when two filmmakers decide to publicise the opening of an imaginary hypermarket.
The award-winning film, 'Czech Dream', looks what happens when directors Vit Klusak and Filip Remunda stage an elaborate hoax on the unsuspecting Czech public. They create a hypermarket brand Czech Dream and set about launching it as if it were a real brand.
Klusak and Remunda drafted in the support of marketing and brand consultants, along with a team from the Prague office of ad agency BBDO, who were in on the hoax from the beginning.
BBDO created an anti-advertising campaign for the hypermarket, with ads saying "don't go there", "don't spend your money" and "don't stand in line".
The film raised questions about the ethics of fooling the public and of advertising something that did not exist.
At one point in the film, creatives from BBDO are seen arguing passionately against Klusak and Remunda, who want to include the line "no one goes away empty handed" in the press ads. The advertising executives object that it would be a lie, and refuse to include the line, saying it compromises their integrity.
In the end, more than 4,000 people turned up for the opening of Czech Dream. Even though, according to Remunda, it was obvious that the hypermarket was merely a façade suspended on scaffolding, the power of the advertising still made people believe that it really existed -- despite what their own eyes were telling them.
Set in a country that only had its first hypermarket in 1995, 'Czech Dream' has been compared with the films of Michael Moore as well as Morgan Spurlock's hit 'Super Size Me', which showed what happened when Spurlock spent 30 days eating only food from McDonald's.
When the Czech Dream hoax was exposed, many people turned angrily on the filmmakers -- who gamely stayed around to face their critics. However, other people who had been fooled were more circumspect about the experience, agreeing that it highlighted how the country had embraced capitalism since the fall of communism.
The film is currently showing at the ICA in London, as well as cinemas in Nottingham, Leeds, Sheffield and other cities. It is distributed in the UK by Soda Pictures.
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