Watching a PR entertainment story gather momentum in major news outlets and become a huge news item across North America in a matter of weeks is pure bliss to the average, hardworking PR person. Take for example the recent success of the Simpson’s movie launch.
The first element that generated media attention was turning average run of the mill 7-eleven stores into Kwik-E-Marts across the US and Canada - the local variety store in the fictional town called Springfield. A select group of stores had their yellow outdoor facade changed, already graffiti -ed by a character calling himself "El Barto" and store racks overstuffed with "Simpson’s" brand items — Buzz Cola, KrustyO's, Sprinklicious donuts, etc. There was even clerks decked out in Kwik-E-Mart uniforms and Apu name tags. 7-Eleven left no stone unturned for the ultimate in cross-promotion.
A brilliant example of merchandising movie content and giving consumers the opportunity to be “in Springfield” – to buy a Squishy and say ‘good morning Apu.’ This blog is typical of the media coverage generated by converting the stores. http://simpsonskwikemart.blogspot.com/
The second was choosing a town named Springfield to host the movie premier. The attention this program generated was higher than average likely because the show had always been careful to never divulge the fictional Springfield town’s location – until now. USA Today got into the act, posting all 14 video entries on a web page devoted to the contest. You can see all the entries at http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/simpsons-contest.htm
Getting a movie's key messages picked up by media outlets is no easy feat. It takes long lead planning, creativity and the ability to keep launch momentum building so as to peak at just the right time - opening night. Here's what I think the PR team did well.
1. Set clear goals for what they wanted to achieve - awareness, coverage, web hits, etc.
2. Spent time developing key messages - what they said was fun, believeable and relevant.
3. They targeted specific media considered influential - not every movie launch gets a web page on USA Today.
4. The campaign and promotion aligned perfectly to the brand's positioning - the product merchandising wouldn't have had the same fun factor if that rack of Sprinklicious donuts was placed in a Mac's Milk Store.
5. They had fun - it's the campaign that any marketing person wishes they had on their CV - three months working in Springfield.
These two major components of the program generated incredible momentum, media coverage and more than 6.7 million hits on Google. Not bad all before Homer walks down the red carpen on opening night.