(Aug. 22, 2014) Despite some initial trepidation, City Council eased up this week to allow what was pitched as a mutually-beneficial promotional tie-in with the FX television network and the Simpsons cartoon franchise.
The city will be allowing BeCore marketing, on behalf of FX, to erect a 30-foot long inflatable model of the cartoon fish Blinky on the downtown beach on Aug. 30.
The stunt is intended as a promotion for FX’s recent purchase of the Simpsons’ back catalogue, with all 23 years’ worth of episodes soon to be shown on the network.
“This is a marketing promotion to reinforce that…and to bring some attention to the Simpsons property and the episodes that FX is taking over,” said Roger Malinowski of BeCore. “This is a beautiful location with high family foot traffic during the season.”
The major issue with Blinky, from the city’s perspective, is that he is a three-eyed fish, mutated from the toxic waters surrounding a nuclear power plant where Homer Simpson is employed in the show.
This caused concern amongst city staff over the implication that the city’s beaches – which the town spends millions each year on cleaning and replenishing – are somehow akin to Blinky’s toxic environment.
“Nowhere is there any attention drawn to the toxic element,” Malinowski assured the council. “We’re not playing it that way.”
“We thought that to be associated with such a powerful piece of property [the Simpsons] would be a real benefit to the town,” Malinowski said. “There’s not callout to the quality of the water. Blinky is one of the deeper characters in the show for people who pay attention…it’s a tip of the hat to the true Simpsons fan.”
As the town works to beef up its social media presence, Malinowski noted that the Simpsons have a whopping 74 million Facebook followers.
“In my experience, the social media element drives awareness and curiosity,” Malinowski said. “You’ve put yourself out there to a larger audience across the world to come and visit, and you’re tied in with a legendary show.”
Although there was some hesitancy, council eventually relented to the notion that a cartoon fish would likely not be taken seriously enough to outweigh the potential benefit of the promotion.
“Who takes the Simpsons seriously enough to associate a three-eyed fish with a polluted ocean?” Councilman Dennis Dare asked. “It’s a cartoon sitcom, not a documentary.”
Council’s only other gripe was BeCore’s request to use a city generator to power the inflatable, which council suggested should be provided by the promoter as the city is looking to trim costs associated with special events.
BeCore is paying $350 to rent a 40-by-40 foot plat of beach from the evening of Aug. 29, when the inflatable will be set up, through the evening of Aug. 30, when it will be removed.
“We believe there is opportunity to identify marketing activations separately from other special events, perhaps with a greater fee, although that has not happened yet,” said city Recreation and Parks Director Susan Petito.
Council members Joe Mitrecic and Margaret Pillas voted against allowing the event.