I’ve been generally nonchalant or, rather, disinterested by the notion of seeing The Simpsons movie since I first heard it was coming out. The movie arrives in theaters later this month. I adored The Simpsons, like just about everyone else, during my days in college in the mid ’90s and remain astonished by some of the wit and characters pervasive in the show during its near two-decade run. I still laugh thinking about episodes including the “Flaming Moe” and when “Itchy and Scratchy” was censored thus resulting in a series of programs where they grew to love each other and drank lemonade beverages together.
However, the notion of the movie finally coming out, years after the South Park movie and the Family Guy rise to prominence, and nearly a decade after the show was at its pinnacle of popularity has struck me as a bizarre and likely futile marketing move. This is a show that dominated TV cartoon programming, from the adolescent demo up to the mid-30s, I’d venture, for years. I believe much more could have been done to capitalize on the show’s popularity including theme parks but, certainly at a minimum, a movie was a natural.
Suddenly though, my interest in seeing the film is growing. I’m increasingly impressed by the series of ways in which the movie is marketing itself both online and offline. Most people at this point have heard about how Fox struck a business development deal with 7-11 to promote the movie in the brick and mortar stores. Even more appealing about this promotion is how many 7-11s have actually taken the extra step to literally convert themselves to Kwik-E-Marts, just like the Apu run store on the show. Kudos are deserved for the marketing crew that came up with the idea for such a promotion and then started executing this month the way their are now.
Equally impressive are the online marketing efforts. There are several versions of the movie trailers found on sites like YouTube, including the one above, and they are funny, enticing and play nicely to the non-CGI oriented nature of the show. The website promoting the movie is highly interactive and very cool. There are games to play, downloadable items everywhere, guided tours, a link to a MySpace page (I guess you’d hope for this considering the Fox tie to both companies) and more. My favorite thing, which, I was sadly more than happy to spend about 20 minutes fooling around with, was the avatar creation app. It’s entertaining, clever and does a great job capturing the essence of the Simpson animation. I posted my first attempt at an avatar to this post. The character’s name is 18k–don’t ask.
I’m not sure what the future direction for the show is but I’ve been hoping, since I first heard about the movie’s release, that this would be the curtain call. Given the effort that appears to be going in to the marketing, that notion doesn’t seem far fetched. I don’t want to really know what other alternatives would look like. Here’s hoping that the glorious and witty show does well at the box office, and then in the other release windows, as it winds down a couple decades of masterful success.