So publicity stunts for The Simpsons Movie have begun (just as I told you they would back in March). Over the weekend, 7-Eleven Inc. turned a dozen stores into Kwik-E-Marts, the fictional convenience stores of The Simpsons fame. AP called it “the latest example of marketers making life imitate art”. Its reverse product placement: instead of just putting products prominently in a movie or TV show, fake goods move from the screen to reality. Other recent examples of this include Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, which spun out of the Harry Potter books and movies, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurants, which opened after the movie Forrest Gump. Most of the 6,000-plus 7-Elevens in North America will sell items that until now existed only on The Simpsons show: Buzz Cola, KrustyO’s cereal and Squishees, the slushy drink knockoff of Slurpees. It’s all part of a campaign to hype the July 27th release of the big-screen debut for the long-running toon, which lampoons 7-Eleven for selling unhealthy snacks and being manned by immigrants. 7-Eleven is bearing all the publicity stunt costs, which executives of the retail chain put at somewhere in the single millions. 7-Eleven managed to keep the locations of the revamped stores quiet until early Sunday morning. That’s when the exteriors of 11 U.S. stores and one in Canada were flocked in industrial foam and given new signs to replicate the animated look of Kwik-E-Marts: NYC; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Burbank; Los Angeles; Henderson, Nev.; Orlando; Mountain View, Calif.; Seattle; and Bladensburg, Md. But customers won’t find Duff beer, the brand chugged by Homer Simpson. The movie will be rated PG-13, and selling a Simpson-themed beer “didn’t seem to fit,” 7-Eleven said.
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