Garfield, Odie and Jon: where's the buzz?

The Garfield movie comes out in a few days. I've seen the trailer, I've seen the articles on the planned cross-promotion. But I don't feel any buzz. Is that even possible with such a familiar - and bland - cast of characters? There are movie tie-ins with Beanie Babies, Wendy's and Goldfish crackers. I don't know if Wendy's will be succesful launching a national kid's meal program on the admittedly broad shoulders of a lazy and sarcastic cat. Beanie Babies? Talk about a trend that cratered. The goldfish are a good tie-in - if they introduce a lasagna-flavoured extension.

Garfield's not hurting for work this summer. He's pushing recliners. Thanks to a cross-promotion with Dole, 100 million promotional stickers will be placed on bananas.

THAT would be a great opportunity for guerilla promotion - if it wasn't Garfield. Sure, Bill Murray will give the cat an edgier voice, but imagine what the 18-24 and boomer demos would do with 100 million Uncle Duke stickers? If Dogbert is Satan, Garfield is Phil, the Prince of Heck.

The execs involved are clearly placing their bets on building audience size through a widespread DTC campaign. The Shrek-like numbers, they must hope, will build as audiences flock to see the nifty CGI graphics and savour Garfield's mild sarcasm. One huge lurking problem - Garfield is a known quantity. His mug already grins from every product conceivable. It's not like he's a forgotten 70s icon, or a cult favourite.

Could the solution be guerilla marketing? Could the cat (and the movie) win more buzz, build a tougher image and carve a niche in the cultural zeitgeist with some more radical marketing?

Garfield's agent could have worked harder to get the fat feline into the now-reknowned Ford Sportka ad. (reg. req.) But let's remember - he does have an Animal Planet special coming up. Come on. 2600 newspapers daily and he can't even land a special feature on A&E Biography?

I mean, Shrek is even in +HP ads! (.pdf)

Here are some suggestions for a Garfield guerilla marketing campaign:

  • Garfield vs. Tony the Tiger celebrity deathmatch flash viral
  • Garfield-themed Google logo (after all, if Google's going to sell out, might as well go all the way, eh?)
  • Random Garfield assaults on baseball mascots
  • order up some knock-off Kate Spade purses - in Garfield fur - and sell them through the usual spots in Chinatown
  • e-cards from unexpected places - Disneyland rides, popular regional bars
  • Garfield baseball caps, with ears and tail, distributed free outside the US Open.For more information, here's an interesting (if slightly artsy fartsy) post on guerilla art.
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