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Feature Film

Six of the Weirdest ‘Minions’ Marketing Stunts

Illumination/Universal’s push to make its Minions a household name, and product, is reaching into some weird corners.

There have been some triumphs, like the fine art poster gallery. And there have been some reported stumbles, like the McDonald’s Happy Meal doll that said “What the f*ck?” whenever the unlucky (or depending on the kid, lucky) user activated it.

The bottom line is that the world can’t get enough of the Minions, and no one knows why, not even Despicable Me’s screenwriter Cinco Paul, who admitted, “We never knew the minions were going to be so popular; it just became a force of nature.” Love them or hate them, they’re a great case study in marketing cartoon characters, which is the subject of our piece today.

Here are six of the more unconventional ways that the characters and film are being marketed to the public:

1. Minion Yellow

Hey, not to get post-racial but just what color are the minions of Minions anyway, you may ask? Well, the answer now is that they are “Minion Yellow,” the Pantone color system’s first new hue in three years. The idea was originally suggested by Pharrell Williams and produced collaboratively between Illumination and Pantone. “Just as the sun’s rays enliven us, Pantone Minion Yellow is a color that heightens awareness and creates clarity, lighting the way to the intelligence, originality and the resourcefulness of an open mind,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “This is the color of hope, joy and optimism.” Next question!

2. Minion-azon

Amazon had never agreed to fully branding its ubiquitous shipping boxes with someone else’s marketing, before Universal and Illumination came calling. But after they did, Minions-themed packages in an array of sizes, delivering DVDs, books, toys and sporting goods, starting showing up on our doormats. And now they won’t stop coming!

3. Welcome to Minions

England’s sleepy Cornwall community Minions was once known for its Bronze Age gold beaker. But that was before the Minions invaded Minions in May, bum-rushing its pubs and plastering their Minion Yellow mugs all over the village’s highway sign. Citizens haven’t been the same since, says the community psychologist.

4. Depeche Minions

You want to talk about fast fashion that can leap straight from the catwalk to the counter? Then check out Selfridges’ limited-edition Minions Bello Yellow Collection, Universal and Illumination’s fierce team-up with designers like Rupert Sanderson to Giles Deacon, whose £3,355 Minion Yellow minidress (pictured above) might still be available. It nods like the film to London’s Swinging Sixties, but you know what they say about fashion, fast or otherwise: One day you’re in, and the next you’re out.

5. Minions Masthead

What do you do if you’re a publishing company emerging from bankruptcy, but still in search of quick earnings as advertising revenue falls? You sell your front page nameplate to Minions, of course! Which is what happened when the Los Angeles Times, owned by embattled Tribune Publishing, elected to adorn its logo with the miniature Minion Yellow scamps for a paltry $300,000, according to L.A. Observed. That’s a small amount to pay for such a reportedly large swath of objections lodged by top editors, but there’s no such thing as bad publicity, the aphorism goes — which is also reportedly what Universal was counting on to help goose its Minions publicity rollout. After all, who reads print anymore anyway?

6. Eat the Minions

Smacking the minions of Minions onto anything we can actually eat is also a strain of Illumination and Universal’s marketing scheme. For example, it’s a no-brainer that they would use their banana-crazy hordes to sell bananas, which they have done in Australia, of all places. Minion Tic Tacs might make sense too, given that Minions’s unintelligible stars resemble miniature yellow pills. The Tic Tacs won the Most Innovative New Product Award at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago last May, thanks to the printing technology used to get the Minions imprinted onto the tiny candies. The only untapped frontier that remains for the pill-shaped creatures might be actual pills. It’s not for nothing that the film’s own Jon Hamm said Minions look like Xanax. Or is it Oxycontin?

  • L_Ron_Hoover

    Who knows, maybe animation is finally starting to get the respect it deserves in America. I can imagine not too long in the future it will be a more popular, accessible medium with a higher demand for a wider audience. It already consistently reigns supreme at the top of the box office…I have hope.

    • Jestress

      Can animation really get respect as an art form, through annoying little creatures that are neither funny, nor intelligent, nor… anything? I think in order to garner respect, the viewers need to reach a point where they perceive animation as an actual ART – not as a consumer’s cutesy Friday afternoon delight.

      • Doconnor

        The great thing about animation is that it can be Art and cutesy. Take Inside Out for an example.

      • benC

        Respect for animation as “ART”??
        No!Why?Because `Murica!!!That`s why?

      • DoctorEGM

        I don’t think fans of minions even think about animation through those little yellow pests, apperently people just like minions because they think it’s funny when little rabbid-like comedy reliefs throw out jokes a four-year-old could easily write.

        • Magic robot

          Wow you really hate the minions goodness they aren’t horrible and how are they pest they are help full in the movie its better than that abomination Rise of The Guardians with elves that were annoying and useless

    • KW

      If animation is starting to gain respect, it isn’t because of this film.

  • Kyle_Maloney

    Anyone else really despise these guys? They just seem like a rip off of something I cant put a finger on.

    • coco

      I’ve always feel that they are a rip off of Rayman rabbids

    • UsaMiKo

      Alot of people compare them to the Rabbids from the Rayman video games.

    • King Bob

      The cowboy Twinkie mascot from the 1970’s resembled a Minion with a cowboy hat & bandanna, which ironically Minions have appeared on boxes, and the Raving Rabbids,

    • Jestress

      I think they’re just the generic “funny” sidekick character… that we’ve had one too many of. And yes I hate them with the passion of a thousand flaming suns. Okay, maybe not a thousand… 998 flaming suns. Yup, sounds about right.

      • Magic robot

        Just because something is cliche that doesn’t make it horrible it just makes it kind of lazy also there is nothing “new under the sun”

        • Barrett

          Exactly. They aren’t a “ripoff” of anything, more just a certain kind of multitudinous comedic character group. I’d love to see a crossover with the Smurfs, if they’re going to go full-force at this overload. They’re both pseudo-Franco all-male groups with largely identical features!

    • Fredinandus

      No. I can’t despise yellow pills.

    • Mermaid Warrior

      I didn’t mind them in the DP movies, they did some funny stuff, but bordered on being annoying. I don’t think I could sit through a whole movie of these guys.

      I agree with Usa, they seem a looooot like Rabbids.

  • Doconnor

    I remember when newspapers would put Elsa on their front page to boost sales. Now Minions have to pay to do that.

  • Mistwalker14

    A friend of mine always said that the Minions looked like Tic Tacs…. I say they look like Corn Pops

  • EW Parris

    Missed the Twinkie cross-promotion? As much as Minions look like Twinkies?

  • rob

    “For example, it’s a no-brainer that they would use their banana-crazy hordes to sell bananas, which they have done in Australia, of all places” Huh?? Why “of all places”?? Australians love bananas! They’re bloody delicious.

  • None of these these things is particularly weird.
    None of them.

  • Pedro
  • Inkan1969

    They should go higher scale and market Minions prescription drugs.

  • Sirk
  • Magic robot

    I’ve see weirder but OH MY GOSH A CURSING HAPPY MEAL TOY LOL

  • Eman

    At one point it stops being a marketing scheme and starts becoming an infection.

  • mechasus

    The overexposure is fleeting.

  • Barrett

    The Twinkies and Tic Tacs tie-ins are funny and clever, and best of all, a natural fit. Everything else is kind of bizarre and disturbing. I wonder why they didn’t have those Minion-shaped fries in the US or Europe? It seems like they are only in Brazil, from what little I’ve found online.

  • Gagaman

    For me nothing beats the cross-promotion with Durex condoms. “Minion themed condom packing party”.