Brand: The Simpsons (News Corp)
Execution: Event Marketing
Target: Simpsons Fans
Eleven 7-Eleven stores nationwide have been transformed into Kwik-E-Mart, the (formerly) fictional fast food mart featured weekly on The Simpsons, a U.S. animated satire that has had a 20 year run and is about to spawn its first movie (The Simpsons Movie) this week.Â The stores now sell products seen only on the show like KrustyO’s cereal, BuZz Cola and Krusty Burgers and employees are dressed in bright green outfits familiar to Simpsons fans from the character Apu who works at the Kwik-E-Mart on the show.
This promotion (also written up in the Wall Street Journal, Advertising Age and others) is a brilliant reversal of the classic product placement strategy, where real life products are placed into fictional environments.Â By placing these brands – which Simpsons brand enthusiasts have developed a real affection for over the past generation – into a real retail environment, The Simpsons has created a brilliant brand experience that allows users to temporarily step inside the world of the Simpsons.
7-Eleven also benefits from this promotion by suddenly becoming a leading-edge marketer and finding a way to make a few of its stores fun and relevant.Â The investment for this promotion is relatively modest, as only 11 stores were affected by the redressing – however the Simpsons products like KrustyO’s cereals are being sold in all of the 7-Eleven Stores nationwide, offering 7-Eleven the potential for turning this small promotion into a big profit center.Â As Bob Garfield notes, this self-mockery represented a real risk for 7-Eleven, and they are to be commended for it.
For NewsCorp, the buzz and publicity created by this promotion has been fantastic and well-timed.Â It is a nice diversion from the normal business of movie promotion which has grown tired from overuse.
Although this may be the first example of fictional products making their debut in the real world, car makers have for years been using racing video games on the PS2 and XBox as a way to concept test the interest in cars aimed at enthusiasts.Â Several car models including the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution were brought to the U.S. market based on interest generated by placement in video games.Â In a world where thousands of people make real income in artificial environments (second life) and teenagers spend as much time immersed in the fictional world as the real, we can expect that there are huge opportunities to realize the appeal of fictional brands.
Nearly flawlessly executed, we still think 7-Eleven could have made a more dramatic gesture by moving the promotion out to more retail locations – perhaps 111.
Branding Bottom Line:
7-Eleven is suddenly cool again.Â And we remember to TiVo the Simpsons.