13 Bewildering Movie/Food Merchandising Tie-Ins
Nothing can kickstart a cultural obsession like a good summer blockbuster or hit TV show. As such, all sorts of other industries want to make sure that they have an opportunity to be the first to cash in. Unfortunately, even the best-laid plans run awry, and occasionally, due to a planned blockbuster turning into a bomb, or just overzealous efforts to link food and media, there’s a graveyard of tie-ins that are confusing at best and borderline terrifying at worst. Here’s 13 of them:
Subway’s Hunger Games Fiery Footlongs
I can understand why Subway smelled opportunity with the release of the Hunger Games movies, though it is surprising they can smell anything but that disgusting stale yeasty scent their stores pump out 24/7. A popular young adult novel getting the movie treatment? They could get in on the ground floor of the next Harry Potter or Twilight. The problem is, well, Hunger Games is less wizard kids or vampire smooches, and more children killing each other with bows over scarce resources. Not something most people want to ponder while eating a full 12 inches of mediocre sandwich.
Shrek was certainly not one of the movies from this list that falls into the bomb category. It was a bona fide phenomenon, launching sequels, Smash Mouth album sales, and memes that continue to this day. With all that momentum, even any tie-in that’s just a MEDIUM success is less than ideal. Which brings us to Heinz’ EZ-Squirt ketchup, available in “Blastin’ Green” with Shrek’s face slapped on the bottle. You know how you want your ketchup to be… green? Or to be thinking about Shrek while you eat a hot dog covered in green liquid? Yeah.
Hi-C Ecto Cooler
Now that we’re on the topic of green foodstuffs, let’s take a look at one that was surprisingly, a massive hit. Hi-C’s neon green Ecto Cooler, launched to capitalize on Ghostbusters fans’ deep desire to drink ghosts, was actually such a success that it stayed on the market long after the movie’s time in the spotlight had faded. Though neon green liquid, as Gatorade and Mountain Dew can attest, is vastly more palatable than dark green, viscous sauce.
Ectoplasm Energy Drink
Sometimes it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. That turned out to be the case when Ghostbusters wanted to dip back into the well of ectoplasm-themed beverages, assuming after Ecto Cooler that it would be a guaranteed success. Unfortunately, people give energy drinks a little less slack, it seems, especially without a Hi-C or other established drink company logo assuring that it, you know, wouldn’t kill you.
Hobbit Breakfasts At Denny’s
It’s easy to see why a business would be foaming at the mouth to tie their ship to the launch of the Hobbit, with the success of the Lord of the Rings movies. Unfortunately, the prequel came and went with little fanfare, leaving Denny’s serving a gag-inducing “Second Breakfast” menu that combined all the flavor of traditional English breakfasts with the massive portions of U.S. fast food. Some of it, especially the second time around for Desolation of Smaug, looks decent. Other items require you to look another human in the eyes and order “Gandalf’s Gobble Melt” in order to get a kind of gross turkey sandwich.
Gundam is an absolute pop culture force, especially in Japan. So who’s to stop the purveyors of, uh, canned sardines in oil from getting in on it? They also employ a pun, combining character name Char Aznable and the word sardines for “Chardines,” but one can question if that is worth bringing this into the world. But hey, if you’re a fan of massive robot battles, and feeling tiny bones crunch between your teeth, do we have the sardines for you!
Black bun hamburgers are the movie tie-in world’s “fetch.” Whether with charcoal or dye, they have been trying to make this happen for years. They’ve attempted to market a black hamburger bun at times for everything from Spider-Man, to Batman, to Star Wars. Look, guys. If you can’t get people to eat something on the back of basically the holy trinity of marketing slam-dunks, maybe it’s time to put it on ice for good.
Prince of Thieves Cereal
Hey, remember the Robin Hood movie Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner? No? That’s totally to be expected! With the lack of collective recollection of that movie, it’s even more unlikely that you’ll find anyone with fond memories of the… cereal? Yes, pioneering the marketing art of “why” was a strange cereal marketed along with the movie, while also being so lightly branded as to maybe seem unlicensed.
Sherlock Holmes 7-Eleven Deals
I think even the merchandising people gave up on this one, meaning we ended up with just huge posters of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Holmes & Watson telling us to “Get A Clue” about… taquitos? A food that would probably kill either one of them.
Burger King Wild Wild West
Wild Wild West was an absolute box-office guarantee, until, well, it wasn’t. All the robot spiders and pocket watch chains in the world couldn’t replicate the success of Men In Black, but Burger King was ready just in case it was. You could even get a pair of the film’s signature tiny sunglasses, because apparently the Wild Wild West people though it wasn’t only going to be a box-office smash, but a turning point for American fashion.
Nude Daniel Craig Popsicle
Yes, after a contest to find the sexiest man, a popsicle was produced that was cast in the, thankfully, above-the-waist likeness of a shirtless Daniel Craig from Casino Royale. I assume that this was also developed in tandem with the therapists of the world who could cash in after you watched your mom cool down with one by the pool.
Grave Of Fireflies Sakuma Drops
Your candy got featured in a massive hit movie! What a windfall! Surely, you’ve got to jump on the train and capitalize the connection, much the way Reese’s Pieces enjoyed skyrocketing sales numbers after E.T., right? Well, first, you might want to check that the movie isn’t, you know, emotionally devastating, and that your candy isn’t used by the child protagonists to fight off starvation. Or, you could do as Sakuma Drops did, say “f**k it” and pop a picture of the main character on your box.
Jar-Jar Binks Lollipop
There is no way anything else could ever take the throne from this monstrosity. I doubt anything ever will. You’ve already got a pretty universally reviled character. To add on top of that that the candy is a lollipop, emerging from his mouth, resembling a real tongue far more detailed than anyone would ever hope? As far as I’m concerned, this candy is basically Jar Jar Binks hentai.