Reverse product placement: Fictional brands in the real world
The Journal has a great piece today about product placement strategy for 'The Simpsons' movie, out tomorrow. Instead of putting real-world brands into the movie (which would've seemed strange), Fox has negotiated to put Simpsons brands (like Buzz Cola and KrustyO's) into the real world. They've turned twelve 7-11 stores in the US and Canada into Kwik-E-Marts. From the story:
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."
Here's the handy Kwik-E-Mart locator.
And Burger King, another of the movie's marketing partners, serves up this Simpsons avatar generator. (That's a Simpson-ized image of me, at right.)