Over the weekend, 7-Eleven Inc. turned a dozen stores into Kwik-E-Marts, the fictional convenience stores of “The Simpsons” fame, in the latest example of marketers making life imitate art.
Those stores, in Manhattan, Bladensburg, Md., Orlando, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Henderson, Nev., Los Angeles and Burbank, Calif., Mountain View, Calif., and Seattle, and most of the 6,400 other 7-Elevens in North America will sell items that until now existed only on television, such as Buzz Cola and Squishees, a Slurpee knockoff. A 12th 7-Eleven Kwik-E-Mart will open in Canada on July 3.
It’s all part of a month-long campaign to hype next month’s opening of “The Simpsons Movie,” the big-screen debut for the long-running television cartoon.
“When you’re the industry leader, others may want to stereotype or poke fun at you,” said Doug Foster, 7-Eleven’s chief marketing officer. “We get the joke and want to have a little fun with our customers and fans of The Simpsons. Visitors to the 7-Eleven-style ‘Kwik-E-Marts’ and our other stores will immediately realize the contrast between ours and the one parodied on The Simpsons show. They’ll see our quality fresh foods and popular services that real-life convenience-oriented consumers want.”
The store will remain true to Kwik-E-Mart form, but because of the movie’s anticipated PG-13 rating, 7-Eleven is not offering Homer’s beverage of choice, Duff Beer. All told, the convenience store chain will carry more than 25 items that are either recreations of products from the actual show or collectibles, including a dancing Homer doll, talking key chains, T-shirts and hats.
Radioactive Man, Bart Simpson’s favorite superhero, is featured in a 32-page comic book produced by Bongo Entertainment Group only for 7-Eleven. Numbered 711, the plastic-wrapped comic book has a suggested retail price of $3.99.
“As far as we know, this is the first time a major company has partnered with a fictional entity to bring it to life,” said Rita Bargerhuff, senior director for national marketing at 7-Eleven. “Many brands have product placement in a movie, but we were intrigued with the idea of bringing fiction to life – a ‘reverse placement,’ if you will. As the number-one show among men ages 18-34, teens, boys ages 12-17, and kids from 6 to 11, The Simpsons reaches our core customers. We believe our customers will be delighted to see a life-size Kwik-E-Mart store and have an opportunity to shop there.”