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

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
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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
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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
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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
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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?