I KNOW GENIUS WHEN I SEE IT: It’s still an even bet that the Simpsons movie, due out this summer, might have us all going ‘D’oh!” when the credits roll – unless, of course, they’ve been saving all the good jokes from the last five seasons for the film – but I’m loving the marketing schemes they’re coming up with to push the film.
Like the one reported by the Richmond, Va Times-Dispatch, about how eleven 7-11 convenience stores across the U.S. will be retrofitted to look like the Kwik-E-Mart owned by franchisee Apu Nahasapeemapetilon in the animated series, complete with shelves featuring “KrustyO's cereal, Buzz Cola and iced Squishees (the cup says Squishee, but the contents will be Slurpee).”
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I’m assuming that the Food And Drug Administration has held up the inclusion of my favorite mythical Kwik-E-Mart product in the campaign – Skittlebrau: the beer with Skittles dreamed of by Homer, and long overdue from our shelves.
The chain’s line of fresh foods will also get branded with Simpsons characters as part of the campaign – “such as placing the face of Homer and his classic "Mmmm . . . sandwich" quip on sandwich wrappers,” according to the Times-Dispatch piece. (Forgive me for sounding arrogant, but this isn’t the genius part I was talking about.)
“Details of 7-Eleven's plans were showed to employees in a booth at a company event at the Greater Richmond Convention Center,” according to the story, but “(i)t was unclear yesterday which 11 stores of the more than 4,700 nationwide would receive a cartoony facelift or sell inventory of the Simpsons-inspired products.”
If you’re asking me – and I know you’re not, but I’m going to ride this soapbox hard for as long as Metro lets me have it – I’d say that this is as good a time as any for 7-11 to do a lightning rebranding, and make over the whole chain into Kwik-E-Marts, not just for the release of the Simpsons film, but permanently.
The 7-11 experience is a basically surreal one, and I’m not just saying it because it was my favorite place to go when I was a young man in the throes of experimental drug use; with virtually identical fixtures and layouts, and the same politely indifferent service, you always feel like you’ve left the real world when you enter a 7-11, and that time stands still for as long as you wander the aisles, picking up overpriced food staples, pondering the ample junk food selection, and trying to decide between Guns & Ammo and the latest WWE magazine.
Changing the name, putting a small temple to Ganesh in the corner and nudging a few details closer to those in a cartoon alternate universe would only enhance the pleasantly surreal buzz we get from our 7-11 experience. I have no way of backing this up with statistics or focus group studies, but you all know what I’m talking about, and 7-11 should heed my words, or suffer the consequences.