Fox — the 1990s: Kids still watch The Simpsons, so sorry but no, you can’t brand your homebrew Duff Beer.
Fox — today: Kids don’t really watch The Simpsons anymore, so sure, Chile, go ahead and brew up some Duff Beer.
Fox has for years fought off unauthorized replications of products in The Simpsons’s universe. Especially Duff Beer, Homer Simpson’s fictional drink of choice, whose licensing Fox has argued in court would be “detrimental to children.” Unlicensed versions have been pulled off the shelves in Australia, Germany, and Colombia, among other countries. In Chile, Fox once filed an intellectual property complaint leading Chilean police to seize contraband Duff Beer bottles by the tens of thousands.
Today is different: Fox is allowing Chile to bottle Duff by the tens of thousands. “Once you see enough piracy, you are faced with two choices,” explained Fox consumer products president Jeffrey Godsick in the Wall Street Journal. “One is deciding to fight it, and the other is deciding to go out with it.”
Why start in Chile, some fans may ask? Why not, as demand for the unlicensed beer has proliferated across Latin America, which is where Fox is first rolling out its officially sanctioned Duff Beer — with “caramel aromatic,” said Godsick — before venturing into Europe (and possibly the United States) next year. Indeed, why Fox has specifically chosen Chile, and this moment, to monetize Duff Beer is for investors and analysts to eventually dissect, but if there’s any backlash, it’ll certainly be easier to contain in a small market like Chile.
The big picture for The Simpsons, a show that was itself once branded detrimental to children, seems pretty clear though. Fox has stopped worrying that The Simpsons’ fan base is too young to get drunk and watch television.