The Frog Days of Summer


From: Marketing department, socks and ping pong balls division
Subject: Marketing strategy for upcoming film “The Muppets”
Date: February 1, 2011
To: Senior vice presidents of marketing, Walt Disney Pictures

Dear senior vice presidents:

Our department has concluded its study into the matter of how best to promote the Company’s upcoming film “The Muppets,” which as you know is scheduled for release this Thanksgiving. Here are our recommendations.

First of all, we note that much of the groundwork has already been laid for us by the original Muppet writers and performers, who did everything long before we bought the product and slapped the Disney name on it. The film’s target audience is not children, who will enjoy anything as long as it is brightly colored and makes fart noises, but adults who grew up with the Muppets. This audience is savvy and cynical, but they have a reverence for the Muppets that is pure and undefiled. So it will be easy for us to exploit it.

The news that the Disney Company is reviving a dormant property is normally met with terror and apprehension, given the Company’s record of ruining its brands with cheap sequels, straight-to-DVD spinoffs, and Tim Allen. But we believe the Muppets are exempt from this — not because the audience doesn’t care about them, but because the audience cares so much about them. Any initial concerns they have about the new film will quickly be replaced by self-generated reassurances that it will be awesome, because the alternative — that the Disney Company might betray them by making a Muppet movie that is tacky and lame — will be too horrible to contemplate. The Muppets are so beloved by 25-to-40-year-olds that their minds will not even permit them to entertain the possibility that the movie might be anything less than magnificent.

This unwavering support, which has been achieved merely by the film’s existence, completely separate from any actual details about its story or production, puts us in a unique position. We recommend an aggressive, multi-platform advertising campaign, one that shoves the Muppets down the gullet of every American 24 hours a day from now until the film’s release.

We recommend a series of trailers that are parodies of other upcoming movies, insofar as a “parody” is when you imitate something and just replace the characters with Muppets. These need not be funny; they need only refer to other films and contain Muppets.

We recommend a barrage of Muppet appearances. Let them appear in viral Internet videos, TV talk shows, “Entertainment Tonight”, red carpet galas, professional wrestling events, commercials for Alamo Rent-a-Car, commercials for pistachios, New York Fashion Week, music videos by cool indie bands, the thing they play before the movie that tells you not to talk during it — anything that will be filmed and shown to people is a good thing for the Muppets to appear in. If the film’s release date arrives and there are people in America who have not seen at least one Muppet per day for the previous six months, then we will have failed in our mission.

Normally this strategy carries with it the risk of over-saturation. There are documented cases of audiences being so deluged with promotional materials that by the time the product became available, they were already tired of it. (This is known as the Johnny Depp Effect.) However, there is no such risk with the Muppets. The target audience has an innate fondness for the Muppets that is so firmly hardwired into their culture that it is impossible for them to get sick of the characters.

Furthermore, our research suggests that in the unlikely event that someone in the target audience does grow weary of the Muppets, he or she will refrain from saying so in order to avoid stigmatization by his or her peers. We believe we can create an environment wherein the opinion that the Muppets are wonderful but are being overexposed and over-promoted — normally a reasonable point of view — will be met with hostility and scorn, as if the person stating that position had called for the exhumation and desecration of Jim Henson’s corpse.

(Please note that this in no way reflects upon the Company’s plan to exhume and desecrate Jim Henson’s corpse, currently scheduled for third quarter 2012.)

In short, it is our opinion that the best way to market the upcoming film is to ceaselessly remind people that the Muppets exist, that they love the Muppets unconditionally, and that anyone who feels overwhelmed by Muppets is a joyless scold whose soul is black and cankered.

The marketing department