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ALTOONA, Pa. -- Sheetz officials, who invested $100,000 in Morgan Spurlock's documentary "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold," consider it money well spent, according to a report in Sheetz' hometown newspaper the Altoona Mirror.
"We thought the initial investment was a very good value," said Louie Sheetz, executive vice president for marketing. "If we end up paying $250,000, it will be the best $250,000 we have ever spent."
The company will follow up on its initial investment with an additional $150,000 if the film reaches certain criteria, such as a specific number of theaters it screens in and levels of DVD sales. The documentary explores the effects of product placement in movies and will screen Wednesday evening at Altoona's Jaffa Shrine Center with Spurlock in attendance.
"It is absolutely worth the investment," said Fred McConnell, director of brand development. "We've all been pleased with the amount of exposure we have received. It goes a long way in helping us to redefine our stores as not the typical gas and convenience store. It lets people know they can buy restaurant-quality food at a gas station."
Sheetz is the sole regional sponsor of the film, which was also had sponsors like POM Wonderful juice, Ban deodorant, Jetblue airline, Mini Cooper, Hyatt hotels and the island of Aruba, has about six minutes of screen time in the film and is referenced approximately 20 times, said the company.
The chain received exposure in more than just the film, Sheetz said. "Last week, Morgan [Spurlock] was interviewed on the Jimmy Kimmel show and he had a Sheetz fountain cup. This is talking about Sheetz on the main stage. That kind of exposure, you can't buy that."
The company added that the exposure may be helpful as Sheetz expands into new and undeveloped markets, with 400 stores open by August. "When we go into a new market where people don't know about us, they may say, 'I remember Sheetz from that movie,'" Sheetz said. "We build gas stations, and we want people to see us a gas station where people can get a good meal at a good value."
Spurlock's appearance at the movie screening is another bonus, according to officials. "It is opportunity for our employees and the community to meet him," said McConnell. "It shows his commitment to Sheetz and the community. He is a great promoter and a tireless worker. It adds a wow factor." McConnell added that within a week, Sheetz will stock its stores with four different 22-ounce commemorative fountain drinks in honor of the movie.