July 28, 2007
Bizarro World Marketing — Simpsons do it backward (why are we not surprised?)
Peter Sanders, in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, illuminated an unusual approach to marketing being undertaken by "The Simpsons Movie," which opened yesterday.
Long story short: "Instead of having real products from 7-Eleven and other companies strategically dropped into the movie, the 'Simpsons' team is putting its fictional brands — from Krusty Burgers and KrustyO's cereal [top] to Buzz Cola — to work in the real world."
I like this a lot: It's much easier to buy something from a Kwik-E-Mart (7-Eleven, MorphWorld-style) than in Second Life.
Here's the article.
- D'Oh! Simpsons Campaign Uses a Backward Approach
At a busy 7-Eleven store a few miles from the beach, more than a dozen fans of "The Simpsons" lined up in the parking lot Tuesday afternoon to shop at a real-life version of the animated show's "Kwik-E-Mart." Inside, another line formed for "Squishees" — the fictional frozen beverage similar to 7-Eleven's Slurpees — served by workers wearing bright-green uniforms like that of the show's convenience-store proprietor, Apu.
Ahead of Friday's opening of "The Simpsons Movie," the Kwik-E-Mart promotion here and at 10 other 7-Elevens nationwide is the most visible example of how the long-running television show's alternate universe of brands has been spun into a kind of reverse product-placement campaign to tout the film.
Instead of having real products from 7-Eleven and other companies strategically dropped into the movie, the "Simpsons" team is putting its fictional brands — from Krusty Burgers and KrustyO's cereal to Buzz Cola — to work in the real world, as marketing partners like 7-Eleven, Burger King Holdings Inc., Jet Blue Airways Corp. and shoe maker Vans Inc. promote "The Simpsons Movie."
The ploy stems from a decision by creators of "The Simpsons" not to portray actual products or brands when the show debuted 18 years ago, according to Denise Sirkot, a producer on the television show and the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Gracie Films, which produced the movie. "We never do placements for creative reasons," she says. "The creative is always driven by the story and that's a standard we established from the beginning, and our promotional partners respect that."
In fact, they've shown their willingness to navigate their real products around the fictional brands of the Simpsons' hometown of Springfield. That's why 7-Eleven stores around the country, for instance, are selling not only Squishees, but also the cola, comic books and cereal brands of the Simpsons' world.
"If we worked to place a product in the movie, a consumer sees it for a few seconds," says Doug Foster, vice president of marketing and chief marketing officer at 7-Eleven Inc., a unit of Japan's Seven & I Holdings Co. "But if we turn it around, a store within the movie comes to life. And then people are making a choice to come to 7-Eleven."
The Simpsons film is being distributed — and heavily marketed across all forms of media — by News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox. Indeed, much of the Fox marketing campaign for the $70-million movie has served to energize moviegoers about a brand that's been in the popular culture for nearly two decades.
"We had to come up with something different for this movie because everyone is used to the standard promotions," says Pam Levine, co-president, domestic theatrical marketing for Twentieth Century Fox.
Ms. Levine says there was no shortage of promotional partners who "came out of the woodwork" hoping to team up with the studio. "We chose partners who we felt really fit with The Simpsons and 7-Eleven is a great example."
Unlike 7-Eleven, Burger King, which has previously done promotions with "The Simpsons," hasn't added any fictional products to its menu, but it does allow its Whopper to be compared to the Krusty Burger of the animated show in new television commercials for Burger King. The Simpsons' Krusty the Clown character plugs his fictional burger, going as far as punching the Burger King mascot while telling viewers "Don't buy the Whopper." In a separate commercial, Homer Simpson, the patriarch of the dysfunctional cartoon family, raves about the Double Whopper but makes no reference to the Krusty Burger.
Miami-based Burger King also has a Web site that allows users to turn photographs of themselves into animated "Simpsonized" images. Amid widespread complaints about difficulties with the Web site, a company official says problems are related to overwhelming demand and that the company is working to reduce the wait time.
"Homer is obviously someone who appreciates indulging in food and a great-tasting burger and fries," says Brian Gies, vice president of marketing impact at Burger King. "We didn't do this deal to secure a few seconds of product placement...we did do it to access the Simpsons characters to create proprietary content that we could control to optimize what those characters could do for Burger King."
JetBlue, another sponsor, last week turned over Chairman David Neeleman's blog to Homer's sour boss, C. Montgomery Burns, who had purportedly hacked his way in to offer advice on how to run the airline. "If I were you, I'd make customers beg for their chocolate chip cookies and Terra Blue Chips," Mr. Burns writes. On its Web site, JetBlue also became the "official airline of Springfield."
Meantime, Microsoft Corp. has joined with Fox to give away 100 limited-edition Xbox videogame consoles with Homer's picture on the side. Fox officials said more than 100,000 viewers registered in the first week of the online contest that started last Tuesday.
The deepest integration of the Simpsons brands has been at 7-Eleven, which through this month features Simpsons-branded products produced by outside manufacturers like Malt-O-Meal Co., which made KrustyO's cereal, and Cott Corp., which produced Buzz Cola. (Duff Beer is not available, as the movie is rated PG-13). While the products are available in 7-Elevens across the country, fans have particularly flocked to the mocked-up Kwik-E-Mart's like the one in L.A., which sells more than 4,000 pink-frosted Sprinklicious donuts (a Homer favorite) each day, according to Mr. Foster.
World's most expensive island
It's Vatu Vara (above and below), in Fiji.
"Reputed to be the most expensive island in the world,
Vatu Vara is often referred to as 'Hat Island' because of its unusual shape.
Its limestone cliffs are covered in dense tropical jungle
and the flat summit is like a cross between
Bora Bora and 'The Lost World' of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
And Mel Gibson is a neighbor: he owns Mago Island, just 32km east."
[via today's Financial Times House & Home section]
I Do Not Know — by E. M. Cioran
I do not know what is right and what is wrong; what is allowed and what is not; I cannot judge and I cannot praise. There are no valid criteria and no consistent principles in the world. It surprises me that some people still concern themselves with a theory of knowledge. To tell the truth, I couldn't care less about the relativity of knowledge, simply because the world does not deserve to be known. At times I feel as if I had total knowledge, exhausting the content of this world; at other times the world around me does not make any sense. Everything then has a bitter taste, there is in me a devilish, monstrous bitterness that renders even death insipid. I realize now for the first time how hard it is to define this bitterness. It may be that I'm wasting my time trying to establish a theoretical basis for it when in fact it originates in a pretheoretical zone. At this moment I do not believe in anything and I have no hope. All forms and expressions that give life its charm seem to me meaningless. I have no feeling either for the future or for the past, while the present seems to me poison. I do not know whether I am desperate or not, since lack of hope does not automatically imply despair. I could be called anything because I stand to lose nothing. I've lost everything! Flowers are blooming and birds are singing all around me! How distant I am from everything!
Got Stumps? Get Stump-Out
From the website:
Stop digging and chopping old tree stumps.
Let Stump-Out do all the backbreaking work for you!
Safe, effective chemical compound actually breaks down and decomposes unsightly stumps so you can easily remove or burn the remnants.
It's like hiring your own professional stump remover, only at a fraction of the cost!
14 oz. container comes with complete instructions.
$4.99 (Stumps not included).
MorphWorld: Natasha Kai into a conehead
The caption of Bill Kostroun's photo reads, "U.S. Women's National Soccer Team player Natasha Kai walks off the field with training cones over her ears after practice Friday, June 22, 2007 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J."
Kai was one of the final three players added to the team's roster for the upcoming FIFA Women's World Cup in China.
She's easily the most decorated player on the team, sporting 15 tattoos at last count.
The tournament begins September 11 with the U.S. team considered heavy favorites.
You wanna know how dumb I am?
When I saw the picture above in USA Today and read the caption, I honestly thought that "training cones" as pictured were for improving field awareness via hearing.
Only when I did a Google search for "soccer training cones" did I twig.
Maybe I should drop the "Techno" from TechnoDolt™, what?
From Peter Atwood's website:
- Perforated Prybaby
Folks have been asking for these for a long time so I decided to do a small run.
5/32" thick CPM 154 stainless steel, these are the full-size Prybabies, measuring 3.125" OAL but weighing in at a mere 26 grams [less than 1 oz.].
They feel wonderful in the hand and are truly featherlight! :)
Bonus: Atwood has a blog at atwoodknives.blogspot.com featuring, among other things, videos of him creating his singular tools.
[via Steve Leckart's Cool Tools]
"X (after 'Memories Revisited' by Jason Mortara)"
Pictured above, it's an installation by Singaporean artist Lynn Lu.
"Using a Chinese calligraphy brush and apple juice, an artist writes the name of an ex-lover, former friend or colleague on a piece of toilet paper. She then holds the flimsy sheet up to the heat of a flame, the juice darkens and the name becomes visible for a split second before being consumed by the fire, which symbolizes people disappearing from her life. In all, the names of 108 individuals scattered across five continents will be "flamed" in the 98-minute video created by Lynn Lu, a young Singaporean artist.
"Inspired by the work of an American artist, Ms. Lu's video installation — titled "X (after 'Memories Revisited' by Jason Mortara)" — is part of an art event that will take place here over the course of two months, with more than 300 Singaporean and Singapore-based artists showing their works in 47 locations ranging from museums and art galleries to shopping centers, nature preserves and even a beach.
"From tattoo art, graffiti art and an arts discussion session in a speed-dating format to batik and more traditional paintings, the Singapore Art Show, running from Aug. 2 to Oct. 8, aims to highlight the diversity and range of visual art in Singapore."
IB, I expect a firsthand report.
[via Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop, writing in the July 25, 2007 New York Times]
Stay tuned for breaking news on the work pictured up top.
Just in at 10:17 a.m., the following story by Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop from yesterday's International Herald Tribune.
- Video installation withdrawn from Singapore Art Show
A video installation by the Singaporean artist Lynn Lu, the subject of an article in the International Herald Tribune on July 21, was withdrawn from the Singapore Art Show after Lu conceded that it bore a close resemblance to the work of an American artist.
After the article was published, Jason Mortara wrote to the National Arts Council here saying that Lu's work, entitled "X," was "a substantively direct copy of a copyrighted piece" that he had created in 2002.
Mortara added that a "coincidence" was "impossible" given that the two artists knew each other and that he and Lu had performed on the same night at a one-night artist's show in San Francisco in 2003. In his performance, "Memories Revisited," Mortara used ink to write down memories from his life on pieces of toilet paper before burning them over a candle.
In "X," Lu wrote the names of former friends, colleagues and lovers, also on toilet paper, but used apple juice so that the names would be revealed only briefly when exposed to the heat of a candle.
After being questioned by the curator of the Singapore show, Heman Chong, Lu acknowledged that she had been inspired by Mortara's work and said that the two artists had agreed to retitle her work "X (after 'Memories Revisited' by Jason Mortara)" and to share the small grant she had received for her work.
In an e-mail message, Lu said she believed that the "content, intention and context" of their works "were different, despite the similarity of materials and method used."
"It had not occurred to me before this that Mr. Mortara would consider 'X' a copyright infringement of his work as artists often influence each other, but I saw it as a grave insensitivity and carelessness on my part," she wrote. "I apologized to Mr. Mortara for my poor judgment, and suggested crediting him" with the new name.
But Chong and Lu agreed Wednesday that it would be best to withdraw her work from the show.
Porcelain Handled Serving Bowl
From the website:
- Porcelain Handled Serving Bowl
Lots of functionality can be found in the simple elegance of this white porcelain bowl — use it for soups or side dishes.
The unique handle makes it easy to hold when eating Asian noodles.
It's also great for beating eggs.
$12.99 (Ingredients for the soup pictured not included — but if you ask nicely, I will give you the recipe).