How interesting it becomes when Hollywood offers up a film with the cautionary tale about commercializing a national holiday – and then proceeds to go on a commercial marketing blitzkrieg to promote said film. When you saw E.B., the featured animated character of this release, shown crapping jelly beans you knew taste would not be a concern.
There has been a tendency for studios to show a slight constraint when marketing a family movie – a very relative measurement, to be sure. With Hop Universal Studios decided such restraint was as practical as Easter grass. They showed they would pimp this production any way possible, starting with the official film website, which goes by the address www.iwantcandy.com. The studio went full bore with promoting this film in two directions.
The first involved a glut of product placements on screen. Among the usual suspects, such as Apple, there was also the Toyota Prius, UPS, and even Gibson guitars. Throughout the film the drum-playing rabbit is seen wearing a t-shirt with the logo of Stax Records, the historical blues/rock record label. Once the travelling E.B. made it to L.A. one of his first stops must have been to the Stax Museum gift shop. ($18.95, plus shipping)
One branding placement in the picture which seems to go too far involves a notably adult franchise. Parents had to be thrilled at a scene involving the lead rabbit E.B. arriving at the gates of the Playboy mansion, looking for bunnies. Whatever chortles that possibly evoked from parents had to soon dissipate when hit with probing questions on that content from their kids.
The second prong of marketing involved a sprawling marketing platform in numerous territories. Worldwide “Hop” will involve promotional partnerships and licensing with no less than 92 companies, amounting to $20 million in promotional dollars domestically, $75 million global. That’s a buttload of jelly beans, so to speak.
One of the major retail partners is Wal-Mart, which was touted for making this the first in-store holiday film promotion for the retailer (whatever that is worth.) Throughout the stores branded displays are seen as they feature no fewer than 100 tie-in products. Many of these are candies (Hershey’s is of course a component) and trinkets, from toys to lip gloss, which the unimaginative Mom or Dad can select to make a movie-centric Easter basket for their kids. Failing that kind of parental initiative there is also a fully prepared branded Easter basket available as well, pre-filled with licensed objects and snacks.
Beyond the typical holiday items other purveyors got in on the act. The Build-A-Bear Workshop has an in-store promotion where kids can build their very own version of E.B. This will ensure that they will have a lasting memory of a film that itself seems to defy lasting long in the public consciousness. For an extra $6.00 you can outfit the rabbit with a soundbox that plays “I Want Candy”. There does not appear to be a doll-sized Stax t-shirt however.
Other companies are offering film-centered services that are more tangential to the movie’s theme. Flowers are a component to the Easter holiday, so it makes some sense that TeleFlora, the online florist, has a cross-promotion with the holiday film. If you make a floral purchase of $65 or more (not including taxes) you can receive a $12 Hollywood Movie Money certificate good towards the Universal cinematic info-mercial.
When capturing images of cherished family holiday events nothing crystallizes those moments better than having officially licensed graphics from a forgettable movie. Kodak is allowing you the chance, for a limited time, to visit one of their photo kiosk machines in order, as they put it, “to bring the adorable characters from the comedy ‘HOP’ into your Easter memories.” You can create themed pictures, photo books, and even upload images directly from your FaceBook account onto the kiosk machine. Just think, decades from now your grown children will look back at their Easter memories and wonder just why in the hell there is an image of them posing with a petulant baby chick.
When it comes to edibles candy is not the only branded foodstuff with this title. Bolthouse Farms is making their first ever promotional tie-in with a motion picture, and it makes sense as to why. With a film based on a rabbit it makes perfect produce synergy to package their baby carrots with graphics from the movie. Parents may even appreciate the urging for the tykes to consume them as if they were junk food.
Alas, one of the better products to come out is one we will not be able to consume here in the States. Krispy Kreme donut shops have a marketing agreement that I would certainly exploit. They not only have in-store promotional displays but also they offer two distinct egg-shaped donuts, including one with the film’s iconic title graphics. For reasons that simply baffle this promotion is only available in Krispy Kreme Mexican stores.
However, just as I hang my head at that lost opportunity, I become buoyed by another shot at branded comfort food. That centerpiece visual of the film – the jelly bean-crapping rabbit – is available to all. Yes, among the glut of pre-fab processed products, we can obtain our own version of E.B. depositing his confectionary fecal matter. And if that does not disturb you also should be warned; refilling the dispenser means you effectively convert the candy into a Lepus suppository. Merry Easter, to all!