Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart?

Kwik-E-Mart"I doooo…"

Last night I finally found time to visit the Dallas Kwik-E-Mart, a rebranded 7-Eleven store (tied to the launch of The Simpsons movie – the Kwik-E-Mart is the convenience store from the show itself. Hopefully you already know that). I’ve posted some photos and comments that give an overview of the store.

I’d heard a lot of positive things about this campaign, so you can imagine I was excited to see it in person. What was my final assessment, you ask?

BRILLIANT!

This has to be one of the greatest marketing campaigns in recent memory. It’s certainly my favorite movie tie-in campaign in years. What makes it so great? I’m glad you asked!
No half measures
Years of half-assed marketing efforts made me fully expect that the "makeover" over the store would be cheap and quick. I expected that the signage at pumps or on the marquee would simply be cheesy overlays or something equally unimpressive. No way. They replaced the plastic storefront signs that said 7-Eleven with the same materials that happened to say Kwik-E-Mart, for instance. If some real world company had acquired the 7-Eleven chain and was rebranding, they would have used the same processes.

Don’t break the illusion
As I’ve written about before, if you want to build an illusion, build the illusion. All to often, we see attempts to create social media (blogs, podcasts, etc.) that fail to bring the consumer into the character’s world. Instead they try to shove the character’s world into the company/brand world.

The Kwik-E-Mart does a fantastic job pulling in the consumer to the world of the Simpsons. There were a couple exceptions to this, but overall elements in the store pulled pieces out of the show and transferred them directly to the store. This wasn’t supposed to be a store with Simpsons goodies, it was supposed to as though the visitor was transported into the show.

Poster on side of something     Poster on the wall

Support the inside jokes…
An old man frozen in the freezer case, pink donuts with sprinkles, Buzz cola – all funny elements from the show that reach out to show loyalists. It’s these elements brought to life that really excite the loyalists, which helps to spread word of mouth attention.

…but don’t alienate the newbies
Even though the loyalists could have fun, so could anyone who’s not in touch with the history of the show. The pink donut display cabinet, for instance, is fun regardless of your history with the show.

Simpsons Donut Display

Get all your vendors fully on board
One annoying nitpick I had with the Kwik-E-Mart experience was the Slurpee branding on the Squishee machine. This was nothing more than a reminder that "this was a promotion". I suppose this Slurpee wanted to have the branding association from the promotion, but I’m sure there’s a better way to have pulled this off. You also have to wonder if having the Slurpee logo present was a requirement for successful cross-promotion.

Make it real
Tasty donuts, real cola (with a somewhat unique taste), funny comic book, actual Kwik-E-Mart uniforms, makeover of all the signage inside and out – this was a real store, with real products. Making it all real means extends the success far beyond a short term, low impact promotion and turns it into an actual experience.