Life Imitates Bart

D'Oh Thank Heaven! for Kwik-E-MartI mean7-Eleven

Published in CSP Daily News

DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. has transformed 12 stores into caricatures of Kwik-E-Mart, the convenience store made famous on Fox's The Simpsons and featured in Twentieth Century Fox's The Simpsons Movie, which hits theaters July 27.

Also, about 6,400 other U.S. and Canadian 7-Eleven stores will bring to life several proprietary products that have, until now, only existed in the Simpsons' hometown of Springfield.

In the eagerly-awaited animated feature film based on the hit TV series, Homer must save the world from a catastrophe he [image-nocss] himself created.

As part of the convenience chain's month-long celebration leading up to The Simpsons Movie debut, the company's Kwik-E-Marts dressed-stores and its other outlets will offer limited quantities of KrustyO's cereal and Buzz Cola, along with Squishee (Slurpee) frozen drinks. A special edition of a Radioactive Man comic book also was produced just for 7-Eleven. And, life-size citizens of Springfield can be seen in the stores.

Even the pink-frosted donut with sprinkles featured in The Simpsons Movie poster is available exclusively at 7-Eleven stores. Unlike at the Kwik-E-Mart, the Sprinklicious donuts are made fresh and delivered daily to the stores.

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 new Kwik-E-Mart' stores are in Manhattan; Bladensburg, Md., (outside Washington, D.C.); Orlando; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Henderson, Nevada; Los Angeles; Burbank, Calif.; Mountain View, Calif., (outside San Francisco); and Seattle. The 12th location, in Vancouver, B.C., is being completed today, July 3.

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 lifea reverse placement,' if you will. As the No. 1 show among men ages 18-34, teens, boys ages 12-17, and kids from 6-11, 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.

To up the reality quotient of the stores, 7-Eleven worked with suppliers to create some of the products available to the show's fictitious Springfield residents. The product most reminiscent of a 7-Eleven mainstay is the Kwik-E-Mart Squishee, a take-off on the retailer's iconic Slurpee brand. The featured Slurpee flavor for July is WooHoo! Blue Vanilla, which can be served in a 22-oz. paper cup bearing the official Squishee logo. Five collectible, plastic Slurpee movie cups with various scenes from The Simpsons Movie have straws featuring removable character magnets. The straw magnets feature likenesses of The Simpsons family members plus Apu, the show's Kwik-E-Mart proprietor, and have a suggested retail price of $1.49.

Boxes of frosted KrustyO's, one of the many products on the show hawked by self-promoting Krusty the Clown, boasts a bright-red cereal box showing Krusty enjoying a bowlful of not-so-appetizing crunchy bits, unlike the real, edible cereal actually inside the collectible box.

Kwik-E-Mart's Buzz Cola, available at all 7-Eleven stores while supplies last, is packaged in a red and yellow can and featured on store shelves. Because of the movie's anticipated PG-13 rating, 7-Eleven is not offering Homer's beverage of choice, Duff Beer. All told, the c-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.

One person will have the chance to have his or her likeness animated for an upcoming episode of the TV show. This grand prize is part of 7-Eleven's Get Animated promotion with a chance to win one of more than 711 prizes that will be awarded through July 31.

To play, customers will receive coded game pieces with the purchase of select 7-Eleven sandwiches, grill items and Squishee (Slurpee) drinks, which can be entered at www.7-11Simpsons.com to instantly win Simpsons merchandise, such as Simpsons products, Kwik-E-Mart t-shirts and uniforms and complete DVD sets of The Simpsons TV show, seasons 1 through 10. Contest entrants who collect and enter 10 codes will be eligible to receive a limited-edition The Simpsons Movie poster.

Bringing the Kwik-E-Marts and Simpson products to life were ideas born from the collaboration of the creative folks at Fox, 7-Eleven and its advertising/marketing agency, FreshWorks, an Omnicom company.

For a slide tour of the Chicago Kwik-E-Mart, click the "Download Now" button below.