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The Simpsons & Great Participatory-Viral Marketing

Kwik-E=Mart SignThis past Saturday, I mosied over into central Dallas to check out the Kwik-E-Mart that was created to promote The Simpsons film, set to air nationwide later this week. The Kwik-E-Mart was created out of a 7-Eleven convenience store – surely the first ever instance of the subject of a satire being remade to more closely resemble the satire itself. The Dallas Kwik-E-Mart is one of the eleven created nationwide out of 7-Eleven stores, and it’s a simply fantastic piece of viral marketing, participatory marketing – and yes, linkbait.

Kwik E Mart sign, Dallas
(click to enlarge)

Read on for more details…

The store was utterly thronged with customers when I went – a majority of whom appeared to’ve been there for reasons similar to mine – to goggle at the strange and funny transformation. Everyone was snapping photos with cameras and cellphones. Signage was converted to read out the slogans of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, the ethnic proprietor of the Kwik-E-Mart in The Simpsons tv episodes. Harried employees, whizzing about to provide service for the fans, wore joke nametags to further continue the theme, and four products inspired-by and named after things seen in the tv show were created just for the promotion.

The four products were:

  1. Squishees – the satire on Slurpees or Icees – the usual ice/slush drink. A handful of different cups were special-made for it, each sporting a different member of the Simpsons family – Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, and Homer.
  2. Krusty-O’s – the satire on Cheerios – in special-made boxes. These were sold completely out the night that I was at the Kwik-E-Mart, assumably because these larger-volume items were harder to keep in stock in the tiny little store.
  3. Buzz Cola – the satire on Coca-Cola and Pepsi – available in six-packs with the distinctive little lightning-bolts on the logo. People were buying this by the crate-load!
  4. Pink Movie Donuts – donuts festooned with garishly-bright icing and rainbow sprinkles provided in little boxes with a happy Homer Simpson on the cover. (Surely everyone knows about the episode where Homer sold his soul to the Devil for a donut?!?)

There were a few other little promotional items as well, though I don’t think they were nearly as satirical as the four iconic products. Some of these included a talking beer mug, a talking pop opener, and some Simpsons hats.

There were a few other things of note in the store – life-size plastic panels of various Simpsons characters for which people lined up to have their pictures taken beside. The signage was fantastic and funny – the Springfield bank sign, the signs over the freezers, the signs above the donut rack, etc.

(click to enlarge)

The Kwik-E-Mart was coordinated with some online components as well – using tickets from the four iconic products, one could go online to enter a drawing for a chance to be made into a Simpsons character for some upcoming episode! I can only imagine that there’ve likely been millions of fans who likely signed up for this chance!

The linkbait comes in here as well – the various movie-related sites are relatively new, but they’re gaining hundreds of inbound links since the promotion went live at the beginning of this month! How’s that for some fantastic search marketing?!? There’s an info page about the Simpsons products, and a page where you can search for a Kwik-E-Mart location 7-Eleven site allowing one to locate a Kwik-E-Mart, there’s The Simpsons Movie website here and here, the JetBlue Airways tie-in sweepstakes, and some Xbox contest tie-ins.

The blogosphere and news sites also showing growing dozens of references in posts and articles about the Kwik-E-Marts, too! Google Trends is just beginning to show a small burst generated on the internet by marketing for The Simpsons film.

Malt-O-Meal cereal, and Slurpee drinks were the tangental beneficiaries of the satirical marketing as well – their cobranded label versions of the products surely resulted in a little bump in sales.

Fantastic promotional campaign for what’ll surely be a blockbuster film of the summer! Some of the best promotional campaigns have a huge amount of humor involved in them, and The Simpsons is no exception.

If you’re a Simpsons fan, I have a few more pix of the stuff I saw during my trip to the Dallas Kwik-E-Mart Promotion of The Simpsons.

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