Simpsons DVD promo dominates Metro, AOL Canada

Both AOL Canada's home page and Metro newspapers were 'Simpsonized' yesterday to push the release of the movie DVD in Canada.

Yesterday’s release of The Simpsons Movie on DVD came with a blitz of creative media support. Among the Canadian efforts by Fox Home Video media AOR ZenithOptimedia were a flip cover and supplement in Metro newspapers across the country and the takeover of AOL Canada’s main page.

Those picking up Metro in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa yesterday were greeted with a full cover shot of Homer eating a donut above the headline: ‘Buy it on DVD and Blu-Ray today.’ On the flipside was a three-page advertising feature designed as a faux newspaper, the Springfield Shopper, complete with ‘headlines’ related to the film’s plot. Inside on a two-page colour spread were fictional articles, classifieds, TV highlights and even ads ‘bought’ by characters of the long-running cartoon series.

‘If somebody is going to read [yesterday's] Metro, they’re going to learn everything there is to know about the Simpsons,’ the paper’s associate publisher, Irene Patterson, told MiC. ‘We do a fairly significant number of cover wraps, with traditional branding and execution. But what the Simpsons (promo) did was provide content. It’s the first time we’ve done that to this extent, across Canada.’

Patterson said the concept, which was developed in-house at Metro and pitched to ZenithOptimedia, is one she hopes other clients will be interested in trying. ‘There are so many clients that we could use this application for. It’s an incredible billboard of sorts, reaching almost a million readers.’

Online, in the first-ever such customization at AOL Canada, the main page was ‘Simpsonized’ from top to bottom yesterday – from the familiar yellow background to the transformation of the AOL logo from blue to black, with a donut replacing the ‘O’ and Homer standing beside it. As well, the floating ad, banners, custom box, Top Searches – number one: Homer Simpson, number 10: Itchy and Scratchy – and header text linking to were present throughout the AOL site.

Chris Sharpe, account manager at AOL Canada, says the campaign was a Canadian initiative, done in partnership with ZenithOptimedia’s online media arm, Zed Digital. ‘It was based on what we’d seen from the movie release in the US, not online but just in general. It was due to the flexibility of the opportunity that Zed Digital provided. They had a variety of images, so it was a matter of deciding how best to utilize them.’ Sharpe added that the site is open to similar ‘takeovers’ from other brands, provided they are a fit with the AOL audience.

The fun also happened down south yesterday, especially in NYC. The Empire State building was bathed in yellow light, and Times Square was full of street teams wearing yellow Santa hats while the News Corp. Jumbotron played highlights from the festivities. Balloons festooning 42nd Street directed passersby to Bryant Park, where they found a themed ice show starring Homer and his pet pig, thousands of donut balloons, a 25-foot inflatable Homer, a field of yellow ‘grass,’ free ice skating, hot chocolate and samples of Ben & Jerry’s limited-edition ‘Duff & D’oh!Nuts’ beer and donut-flavoured ice cream.