It's a classic tale. A celebrity takes a career break and fades from our collective consciousness. Then suddenly, he has a new movie coming out and we can't get away from him. Such is the premise of the marketing campaign for the upcoming film The Muppets which has put Kermit the Frog and his Muppet friends everywhere as they push their return to the screen. The gag, of course, is that these puppets are behaving and being treated exactly like human celebrities, and their media campaign has become a sort of delightful parody of the whole pre-release media blitz industry. (It's no wonder we wanted to draft them as Oscar hosts last week.) Critics are praising the Muppets brand for learning to market itself to adults again, so we'd like to highlight our three favorite press appearances and collaborations from the past week or so to investigate just why this Muppets campaign is working so well.
The Muppets Secret Santa: New York Magazine has a great feature this week where the Muppets participate in a Secret Santa gift exchange with some of the real life celebrities that will appear in the film with them. The feature is fun because, as great as the celebrities are at picking spot-on gifts for their assigned Muppet — Amy Adams gives Miss Piggy some Tiffany sunglasses so she can "hide" from all her new press attention — the muppets are just as good at picking gifts that poke fun at their co-stars. (Miss Piggy gifts Sarah Silverman a subscription to Match.com.)
Kermit sits down with Ellen Degeneres: Doing the talk show circuit is a must for a celebrity promoting a movie. And Kermit got the typical treatment from Ellen Degeneres last week when he sat across from her and submitted himself to an interview. The Muppets-as-real-celebrities gag is played particularly strongly here, as Ellen asks him about his childhood, his adjustment to fame, and, in our favorite moment, his love life:
Ellen: Should I bring up — is this a sore subject? — your on-again-off-again relationship with your girlfriend, Miss Piggy?
Kermit: Um you know i figure i just have to be straight. you know …
Ellen: So, but you do love her right?
Kermit: I do, I do. I just, you know, she puts all these stories in the tabloids about us being married. And that's a little weird. I'm not even sure that's legal in most states. So I'm not gonna go there.
That is not the G-rated humor we've come to expect from you, Kermit! Watch the rest below:
Kermit's Brooks Brothers promotion: Then there's the perennial scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours of celebrities promoting brands at the same time they promote their films. This week, Kermit has become an unlikely sponsor for Brooks Brothers. Again, the Muppets brand shows it knows that it will be the parents who grew up on Muppets who bring their kids to the film, so this is some genuinely smart product placement, but also a great opportunity for humor. Witness the Brooks Brothers interview with Kermit:
Brooks Brothers: How important is clothing to you?
Kermit: I don't always wear clothing, but when I do I prefer something timeless, classic, and expertly crafted.
Yes, a naked frog is now parodying fashion journalism, too.
The film comes out on Thanksgiving, so we don't expect to stop running into the Muppets everywhere we look, but as long as they keep bringing this kind of approach to a media overload, we don't mind at all.