Stay Tuned/Easter Report

From Eccentric Flower


stay tuned

Easter Report
1 April 2007

Assuming I have counted correctly, next Sunday is Easter Sunday, which means that this should have been the big weekend for Easter-related advertising ... but, at least in the material I've been digging through, it's been oddly quiet. My Easter pile is very small, and most of it didn't come from ads, but from hands-on observation of consumer goods (which means I went to a couple of stores and had a look around).

While I'm surprised I haven't seen more candy ads, I'm not startled by the lack of other Easter promotions. It's been like this for years. Easter, like Hallowe'en, is about candy. (At least as far as manufacturers of consumer goods are concerned.) If you aren't selling candy, there's not really much you can do in terms of a seasonal tie-in ... especially not in the Sunday circulars, whose bread and butter is prepared foods and cleaning products.

Not that some of them haven't tried to make the conceptual leap anyway, brave souls that they are.

Exhibit A: An ad for various quasi-Italian products from Star Foods (olives, olive oil, wine vinegar) with the caption "This Easter, Think Outside the Basket."

Exhibit B: Rice recipe featuring Swanson broth (Campbell's): "Italian [Perfect for Easter] Rice."

Exhibit C: Vlasic ad, with the damned stork but also a rabbit peeking its head out, and the caption "Everybunny loves pickles."

Exhibit D: Two double spreads, over two successive weeks, for different sets of Milton Bradley (Hasbro) games, both with the main caption "Games Make Great Easter Gifts!"

Thank you all for playing. We have some lovely parting gifts.

(I must remember to look into Hasbro one of these days, since they apparently have bought just about every other board game license and company around. I am out of touch with the board game market. I'd also like to find out why they cost so damned much money, but that's neither here nor there.)

Meanwhile, over where the real Easter action is, the only candy item I've seen in a circular in the past three weeks (apart from the standard M&M's ad which has the peanut M&M character dressed in a bunny suit, that they've been using every year since those characters debuted) has been for the Wonka Golden Eggs line (Nestlé), and really, there's very little to say about it except that there's a web site mentioned in the ad whose connection to Nestlé is not very obvious - a throwback to the stealth sites I was ranting about a fair bit ten years ago.

This is what they hope you will click on when you get there - this is the whole point of the false front. Ironically, it's a more interesting presentation than the wrapper of concealment.

By the by, it amuses me that in the Egg Hunt kit, they provide the one golden egg for players to find as a special prize, but that's the only plastic egg in the bag that does not come filled with candy. That one you have to fill yourself. Presumably with something more valuable than Nerds or Laffy Taffy ....

But enough of this, you say. Tell us about some truly bizarre and cutting-edge Easter merchandising, you say. Get to the high weirdness already.

I confess I did not do a lot of Easter perusal this year. I've been a little busy. But I did manage to slog through some very odd merchandise a couple of weeks ago at my local Target.

The product that got the most comment from our panel was the Star Wars egg decorating kit, but that was because we have a rabid Star Wars fan in the family. (The nice people at Paper Magic Group, makers of the Dudley's line of Easter products, don't list specific products on their website, but the Lucasfilm promotional site will satisfy your morbid curiosity and then some. ("Without a doubt there is more Force behind the Darth Vader egg than a normal egg." Shoot me now.)

Another good sighting was the "nighttime egg hunt kit" (sorry, don't remember the manufacturer) which had glow-in-the-dark plastic eggs. Like the magic golden eggs, these were fill-them-yourself items. You might expect me to disapprove of an egg hunt with plastic eggs, but there's really nothing worse than finding the one real egg that nobody found one day when you're cutting the grass two months later. Don't ask me how I know this. I'll just note that an April egg is really ripe by June.

We also saw a S'mores kit, which is odd not just because it has no obvious connection with Easter (yet was in the Easter seasonal area), but also: Do you really need instructions, much less a kit, to make S'mores?

I believe the tenuous connection to the S'mores was marshmallow, which seems to have acquired some sort of special connection to Easter that I was unaware of. I believe this is encouraged by manufacturers, such as Kraft, who offer Bunny Mallows - marshmallows shaped vaguely like rabbit heads - every year at this time.

The same set of Jet-Puffed pages, when I went to them, had a "featured recipe" for S'mores. People! You do not need a recipe for S'mores! I shouldn't have to explain this!)

Other somewhat dubious attempts to climb on the Easter wagon: KitKat "bunny ears" - which aren't even shaped differently from normal KitKat bars, but just have an elongated bunny head stamped on the top of each bar, and - okay, I admit this one made me laugh - Reester Bunnies. (These are Reese's cups in a vaguely bunny-head shape, similar to their "eggs" they've been making for years.)

Of course, there's the opposite trend: There are a couple of companies who do most of their business at Easter - for them the challenge is to sell their products during the rest of the year. I don't imagine the nice people at Just Born do big business the rest of the year (despite their acquisition of other minor candy lines, and their attempts to market their marshmallow oddities at Hallowe'en, Christmas, and Valentine's Day) ... which may explain why every Easter their line of products seems to get bigger and bigger - I suspect it's an attempt to make sure they stockpile enough Easter cash to survive the lean season.

I no longer attempt to follow the Peeps madness. It's just gotten too big for me. There are plush Peeps toys. There is a damned Peepsmobile. I will say that I was pretty sure I had never seen the Cocoa Bunnies before, or green chicks, and sure enough the Peeps website says those are both "new for 2007." That's about as aware of Peeps trends as I care to be.

I got nothin' else. Lean year.

Actually, I do have one more item, but I think I'm probably being overly picky here.

It's an Easter tie-in ad ("This Easter, Go on a Journey of Faith") for the DVD of the film The Nativity Story, which is all well and good ... except that, strictly speaking, the proper time to do a Nativity tie-in is Christmas.

I suppose it's better than a cross-promotion with The Passion of the Christ.

and now back to our program

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