Last weekend, 12 Seven-11 stores across the nation were converted into Kwik-E-Marts--a double-threat marketing campaign that simultaneously promotes the upcoming Simpson's movie (out 7.27.2007) and boosts those convenient store sales. I have to admit, it is pretty brilliant. On a weekend that also saw the public release of the iphone, shoppers and reporters alike were making brief comparisons between the two releases, the differences between the crazes, and the ingenuity of The Simpson's campaign. If you ask me, these real-life Kwik-E-Marts act as the peas to technology's carrots (or some other complimentary pair metaphor). What I mean to say is that the two campaigns are undoubtedly linked. I'm not sure about the corporate connections between Fox and Apple (though Apple.com does run the trailers and teasers for The Simpson's Movie, complete with downloadable ipod versions), but I'm more interested in the concepts.
Behold the new iphone: mobile camera phone, digital audio player, and Internet browser, all in one. It's the product that brings your virtual world together, to be accessed with the touch of one compact little screen.
The Kwik-E-Mart campaign seems like just the opposite, like "advertising outside the box." You know that virtual convenience store? The 2-D animation you've watched for almost two decades? Well, it's just become a temporary reality! For the first time, you can actually walk through the isles, touch those not-so-essential items and buy the products, as seen on TV.
Wait. Hold up. Is that the connection?? Do both products/campaigns play with conceptions of lived technology for the sake of consumerism???? I'm thinking yes.
The bustle of the Apple Store in Old Town Pasadena this past Sunday seemed akin to the rush for Kwik-E-products in news reports nation wide. I was trying to help my friend find a power cord for his ibook, but couldn't get much more than an uninterested nod from sales reps sporting "say hello to the iphone" t-shirts. They couldn't help unless we were ready to buy, buy, buy. Meanwhile sales and the Kwik-E-Marts doubled as customers bought boxes of Krusty-Os (I believe Bart choked on razor blades from that cereal in one episode) and 3 for the price of 3 hot dogs (which definitely gave Homer salmonella). Seeing the connection?
So I'd say the campaign is brilliant. Get people to buy things they don't need under the guise of bringing television to life...allowing the public to live out its wildest consumerist fantasy. And as long as the capitalist tenet of needless consumption drives the economy, we all need the Kwik-E-Mart. I just wish they carried iphones.