The Simpsons is a TV show that's never been afraid to merchandise itself to death. Simpsons clocks, Simpsons action figures, Simpsons telephones and Simpsons asthma inhalers have all hit stores in the past – but that's just small fry.
The Simpsons Movie is coming out this month, and it looks set to be this summer's best attempt at dragging out what would have been a diverting enough 24-minute TV show into a two-hour dramatic movie. But, much more than that, The Simpsons Movie is the perfect opportunity for Simpsons bigwigs to churn out a brand-new procession of cash-in Simpsons merchandise, including the zenith of opportunistic cash-in merchandise – turning a bunch of 7-Eleven stores into replica Kwik-E-Marts full of Simpsons products like Krusty O's cereal to Squishee Slurpees to Buzz Cola. However, die-hard Simpsons fans are boycotting the promotion, upset that each box of Krusty O's doesn't come with a jagged metal Krusty O that will hospitalise them in the same way that Bart was in episode 125.
For a show that hasn't really been very good this millennium, The Simpsons knows how to keep pumping out surprises. If The Simpsons isn't overloading itself with guest stars then it's turning itself into ever-more useless computer games in an attempt to mask the decade-long decline it's been suffering from. Not that any of that matters, of course – even a bad episode of The Simpsons is still better than a good episode of American Dad, and since The Simpsons is going to carry on forever there's plenty of time for the show to improve again.
That is, unless the forthcoming Simpsons Movie kicks it to death, of course, which is a real possibility – movies based on TV shows quite often mark the end of the show, either because they're so successful that the producers don't feel as if they can top it or because they're so hopeless that nobody wants to see a moment more of anything to do with it. But at least The Simpsons Movie is doing its best to make people go and watch it. To mark the release of The Simpsons Movie, 11 7-Eleven stores around America have been transformed into Kwik-E-Marts, the convenience store helmed by Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, complete with more Simpsons-based crap than you could ever wish for. E! Online reports:
The Kwik-E makeover, which officially began Monday, not only includes the temporary replacement of 7-Eleven marquees but extends to store shelves, which will now be stocked with everything from Krusty O's cereal and Buzz Cola to WooHoo! Blue Vanilla Squishee Slurpees and pink frosted Sprinklicious doughnuts… The chain will also sell five collectible plastic Slurpee cups featuring scenes from the flick, along with six straws featuring removable character magnets of each Simpson family member and Apu. Additionally, 7-Eleven's line of fresh foods will sport pictures of key Simpsons characters, including Homer uttering "Mmmm…sandwich."
The promotion is thought to be costing 7-Eleven around $10 million, and it's hoped that nodding its head to The Simpsons can persuade a targeted demographic of men aged between 18-28 that 7-Eleven is a brand that doesn't take itself seriously. And there was us thinking that people care so little about the branding of convenience stores that they'd shop in a Man Boy Love store so long as it was close to where they live and sold milk.
And this is just part one of the Simpsons Movie marketing push. On July 10, all hospitals will be staffed exclusively by avuncular doctors who laugh when they give you bad news, and by July 21 all American law enforcement officers will have their hair dyed blue and be instructed to only search for missing children by using tigers.