The Simpsons Movie
proving that pigs can fly
As 20th Century Fox’s biggest release of 2007, The Simpsons Movie enjoyed a hugely successful theatrical campaign introducing new characters such as Spider Pig as well as a feature length storyline and new themes.
Taylor Herring was appointed to handle the launch of the DVD release. The brief was to position The Simpsons Movie as the must-have DVD for Christmas and make it the biggest selling DVD of the season.
We devised an ambient outdoor stunt with the aim of delivering mass awareness of the DVD by targeting the news pages and news programmes of national UK media, as well as delivering a property that would generate worldwide coverage online.
Building on the hype surrounding Spider Pig, the undisputed star of the movie, we paid tribute to one of the most iconic album covers of all time, Pink Floyd’s seminal 1977 album ‘Animals’ – which also stars a flying pig.
See the viral here
We recreated the image by creating and flying a giant inflatable Spider Pig (the size of a double decker bus) over Battersea Power Station exactly 30 years on from the original stunt, when it famously broke free from its tether causing major panic with air traffic control. We managed to secure permission from Battersea Power Station who gave the go ahead for the first time since Pink Floyd’s own attempt.
Taking no chances, we employed a marksman to be on hand to take the pig down in case it attempted an escape. The pig was designed to specifications stipulated by The Simpsons creator Matt Groening. The finished model was a magnificent 12 metres long and 8 metres high weighing approximately 20kg when deflated. Spider Pig also carried internal lighting so he could be viewed during darkness by the hundreds of thousands of London motorists and commuters. Prior to the stunt attempt we approached Pink Floyd’s management to alert them and drummer, Nick Mason, came back to us direct with his own encouraging comments.
After several thwarted attempts owing to severe wind conditions, we used this as an opportunity to seed a ‘Will Spider Pig Fly’ campaign around the initiative. We rallied the support of the media and public by placing a viral clip on You Tube of Spider Pig’s failed attempt, approached national and London radio stations who gave daily talk-up on the subject. We approached Ladbrokes who quoted odds on the chances of it flying.
Spider Pig finally took to the skies over Battersea Power Station three days later, during the week of release. A photocall was staged from the roof of The Duchess pub, where the original shot was taken from and attended by national newspaper photographers and picture agencies, as well as TV news crews. A select few were given exclusive on site access including The Evening Standard, one picture agency and a TV news agency. A specialist film crew were employed to film the entire process for an online distribution.
On the morning of launch we also delivered mini pre-inflated Spider Pigs to radio DJs across national and London radio stations to sustain interest and subsequent talk up.
We flew James L Brooks (Exec Producer) and Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson) to the UK where they completed press junkets, securing a raft of high profile national print features, as well as TV and radio guest spots. DVD reviews were also aggressively secured across national print and broadcast media and a select few targeted competitions were secured.
As a viral stunt, Spider Pig was phenomenally successful and went all around the world with hundreds of thousands of views. The clip was in the top ten viewed clips with well over 15,000 views in one day. In the UK Media Guardian, Holy Moly, BBC News, Channel 4 and The Independent were amongst hundreds of other online hits.
Nine national print features and a further 12 national broadcast pieces were secured around Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson) and James L Brooks (Exec Producer) including Paul O Grady, BBC Radio 1 Edith Bowman, Stella Magazine (Sunday Telegraph), Zoo Magazine and The London Paper.
The Spider Pig stunt achieved page leads in the Evening Standard, half a page in the London Lite as well as the Daily Star. The item was run as a repeat on BBC News and six national radio hits included BBC Radio 1, Virgin, Capital, Heart and XFM – the combined radio talk up alone reached an audience of over 16 million. It was also covered in NME and Pink Floyd contacted us to request that they include it on their official website. Rolling Stone magazine also posted the story and clips on their website.
Spider Pig also worked well as a ambient marketing exercise – the pig could be seen as far away as New Bond Street and passers by (from old, young and even police cars) stopped to take pictures on their phones. Trains into Victoria station pass directly by Battersea Power station, so Spider Pig was viewed at close range by over 200,000 train passengers throughout the day.
Over 60 DVD reviews were secured across national print and a further 20 broadcast reviews. These included The Sun, Daily Mirror, The Times, The Guardian, Daily Mail, FHM, Maxim, Loaded, New Woman, Heat, Closer, Nuts, Zoo, BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Five Live, XFM, Capital FM and Heart 106.2.Competitions were secured in News of the World and kids magazine The Dandy.
The total campaign reached a combined audience of 211,644,000 (print and broadcast alone) and an editorial value of £3,080,598.
The release was one of the biggest selling DVD’s of the year.