The Muppets Bid For A Commercial Comeback

The Muppets have come a long way from their humble origins as lovable kiddie characters who couldn’t help but find themselves in teachable moments on public television. Now, they are lovable characters on the other side of middle age who can’t help but find themselves in marketable moments to all those Millennial parents who have themselves moved along in the world.

It is altogether fitting, then, that the lot of them rolled up to the Hollywood premiere of their new flick, “Muppets Most Wanted,” in a pair of Toyota Highlanders this week.

“Kermit and Piggy rolled out in one car, giving interviews as they drove past journalists at a snail's pace…,” writes  Brian Alexander in USA Today. “Meanwhile, the second car feature Gonzo, Scooter and other Muppets with Rowlf the Dog. As he drove by, he explained that he had a ‘dog's license’ which allowed him to be behind the wheel.”



As far as discretion goes, the sponsor took a cue from Miss Piggy, who has never been a big believer that it gets you anywhere. “The placement was none too subtle with the car name painted in large white letters on the side,” Alexander reports. 

It was the red carpet culmination of a campaign hatched by Saatchi & Saatchi LA that “began with the Muppets at the Super Bowl and followed them on a schlep across the country as they posted images on Facebook and Instagram en route to their film’s premiere,” Erik Oster posted in Media Bistro in a review of the fourth online video in the campaign.

The spot is kind of fun, but leaves a lot to be desired (it doesn’t help that they already did a gas station spot with Pepe),” he writes. “Maybe it’s just that I have high expectations for all things Muppets, but it feels like there was the opportunity for something more here.”

In the Super Bowl spot, you may recall, the whole motley lot of them pile into Terry Crews’ Highlander.

Autos aren’t the Muppets only cup of promotional tea.

As Marketing Daily’s Tanya Irwin reported Monday, their Lipton ads on the Academy Awards telecast “made them the advertiser with the biggest perception gains with women, according to YouGov BrandIndex, the only daily brand consumer perception research service.”

Meanwhile, Ricky Gervais took a selfie of himself with his co-stars at the premiere. That’s an Apple logo on the back of the phone, right? But there’s no topping Ellen.

The indiscreet porcine princess, meanwhile, “is taking it to a whole new level in the first ad for her new ‘lifestyle brand,’” according to a teaser for the spot released on YouTube earlier this week. “Watch it now and tune in to QVC on March 16 to see more #MoiByMissPiggy.”

“Why be you when you could be Moi,” says a dolled-up Miss Piggy from an estate out of Gatsby and a zeitgeist out of Calvin Klein.

“The brand is Piggy’s attempt to top QVC mainstay Joan Rivers,” ABC News reported. “The [long-standing] feud will climax on March 16, when the Muppets come to QVC to promote the new film.... Rivers will also be there to promote her own line.”

This is not a sudden pivot from the aerie of commercial-free TV land to the depths of movie-ties, of course. In a Variety piece chronicling “How Kermit and the Muppets Got Their Mojo Back,” Tina Fey tells Ramin Setoodeh that she fondly remembers watching the TV show with her parents at their home in Pennsylvania. Then came a big-screen event where the Big Apple shared promotional time with the home of the Whopper.

“I remember being excited waiting for ‘Muppets Take Manhattan,’ because there were these Burger King tie-in glasses, and that was the highlight of my summer,” she says.

Okay, then. Whatever. It’s revelations such as these that force us to trot out one of the great movie lines of all time. “Peoples is peoples,” as Pete the diner owner says in “Muppets Take Manhattan.”

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