Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Marketing with the Muppets

If you’re staring with a smile at the pictures in this blog post, then you are a prime candidate for joining me on this discussion. What makes the Muppets a popular advertising image? As today is the anniversary of Jim Henson’s death, a colleague suggested that our blog should discuss how Henson’s Muppets have been successfully used throughout the years in a number of advertising campaigns including Ford™, Pizza Hut™, Denny’s™, Post™ and many more. It’s an interesting thought. What is it about those cute little puppets that make us open our wallets in delight?

Familiarity. The Muppets are recognized worldwide. Popular television shows such as The Muppet Show, Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock were highly rated and syndicated. The Muppets were in books, on television, in the movies and on our lunchboxes. They defined a generation and more than that, they made us laugh. Whether it is subconscious or not, we trust the Muppets. If you can use your advertising icon to create a feeling of trust between your company and your customers, you will make money.

Nostalgia. We love to remember the “good ol’ days” when things were simple and fun. We fondly recall the moments when families crowded around the television and watched Kermit peak out from behind the Muppets famous red curtain or see Bert and Ernie banter on Sesame Street. When we see them on tee shirts and posters, we want to involve them in our lives once again. The 2000s are all about nostalgia. Instead of defining our generation through something new, we are looking back to the past. The sooner we realize this, the better our marketing campaigns will become.

Laughter. We are much more likely to spend money on things that bring us joy. Advertising loves to play this up. Make your customers laugh and you’ll have them focusing on your campaign and not thinking about the money that they’re about to spend. From the “manamana” song to the geriatrics shouting from their opera box, the Muppets bring a smile to our faces and convince us that they’re worth spending money on.

We can learn a lot from the Muppets about advertising tricks and how to run a successful advertising campaign. The Muppets inspired us. Not only to spend money, but to be better people and to share a laugh with friends and family. Today let us remember a man who was passionate about puppets; a man who brought us Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and a whole group of friendly, funny and sometimes sarcastic characters who we will always fondly remember.

Muppets as Advertising Icons
A photo journey of some of the Muppets advertising campaigns...

1. Kermit becomes an icon for teaching people that "dreams are possible."

2. The Swedish Chef gets his own fun cereal brand from Post™ in 1988. It is being re-released this year (2007). The box is filled with kids' games and fun facts like "does not include brocolli"

3. Miss Piggy shows that "pigging out" on Pizza is fun at Pizza Hut™.

4. Kermit shows that "being green" is an awesome feature for the new Hybrid Ford vehicles.

5. Adidas releases green shoes signed by Kermit. Enough said.

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1 comment:

Jimmy said...

I think this is a great start for a big idea. If the Muppets are so successful why aren't there any other puppet acts? Has the 3-D age brought upon the demise of cloth and googly eyes? I think so. But the advertising world will soon see that the attraction of these characters isn't due to the fact that they made movies and starred on TV, but because they're very real. You could actually hug Kermit if you met him or shake the Swedish Chef's hand. No other characters even come close. Mickey Mouse on TV is very different that the jerk who walks around the Park in a sweaty suit. The Muppets worked because they are independant of the medium we choose to showcase them with.