Altoona renaming itself ‘Pom Wonderful’

Sheetz, a chain of convenience stores, paid big bucks to Morgan Spurlock to be in his film "Pom Wonderful Presents," and Altoona, where Sheetz is based, voted to change its name to the film's title from April 27, 2011, to late June.
Sheetz, a chain of convenience stores, paid big bucks to Morgan Spurlock to be in his film "Pom Wonderful Presents," and Altoona, where Sheetz is based, voted to change its name to the film's title from April 27, 2011, to late June. (Peter Mucha)
Posted: April 15, 2011

StarKist never asked, but filmmaker Morgan Spurlock did, so on April 27, Altoona will change its name to Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever sold.

That's the title of his latest documentary, about advertisers' publicity stunts.

So, when the City Council of the Western Pennsylvania burg approved the deal on Wednesday, they created another real-life example.

Only this time, Spurlock was the advertiser, promising a reported $25,000 for the police department and a special screening in exchange for a temporary name change.

Altoona will be Altoona again at the end of June.

To drive home his point with humor - and get some cash - Spurlock has done a lot of deal-making with the documentary's devil. He used plugs and product placements to fund the project, even selling the title rights to pomegranate product maker Pom Wonderful.

Sheetz, the Altoona-based chain of convenience stores, was also a proud sponsor - reportedly to the tune of $100,000 - of Pom Wonderful, which starts rolling out in theaters April 22.

"We've learned to love and appreciate him," said Louie Sheetz, executive vice president for marketing. "We're in on the joke."

I'll scratch your back, you scratch my back, and we'll both make a little scratch, the thinking clearly goes.

Spurlock has been his own guinea pig before. He sickened himself on fast food in Super Size Me and tried to interview the world's most wanted man in Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?

"We're really excited about it," said Bill Schirf, current mayor of Altoona and future mayor of Pom Wonderful Presents. ". . . Clearly, the people of Altoona have a sense of humor - and an asking price."


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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