7-Eleven Is A Joke, And Other Branding ComplaintsS

With the release of Star Trek, last week's X-Men Origins: Wolverine is already old news. In this ever-changing fast-moving movie landscape, where can you turn for some appreciation of the now? Apparently not 7-Eleven.

So, picture the scene; last Friday, Wolverine's opening and disappointing all manner of fans who'd wanted something along the lines of "a story" to accompany their disturbingly-over-buff action heroes, and I go into my local 7-11 hoping to mark the occasion with a Mutant Berry Slurpee only to find... they're gone. Already. On the day the movie opens. Instead, it's all about the Terminator Salvation Apocalyptic Ice Slurpee now, apparently.

This boggles my mind in a number of ways. To wit:

In what world did whoever is responsible for the scheduling of sponsorships think that dropping a Wolverine promotion the day of the movie actually opening was a good idea? Okay, there's something to be said for advance promotion, and one of my favorite parts of cinemagoing has always been the trailers; there's always been the thrill of seeing hints of what's coming soon, after all. But at the same time, there's something just... wrong about a movie (or a television show, or a book, or whatever) being replaced in promotional affections on the very day that it actually becomes available to everyone. It's a sign, perhaps, of this breathless rush towards The Next Big Thing, irregardless or whether or not TNBT is, you know, any good or not. I know, I know; it's ironic to say on a blog so wrapped up in what's next (both in media and larger terms), but can't we stop to appreciate what we have occasionally?

(This is meant more in the larger scheme of things than a particular plea to ponder the Wolverine movie any longer than absolutely necessary, by the way; I'm not sure that there's enough to even actually earn the word "ponder" in Wolverine, but that's neither here nor there. It's a point of principle, dammit.)

Since when has Terminator been the kind of franchise that you think "Ah, yes, a slurpee tie-in"? I get that the cultural landscape is such these days that it's not enough for a blockbuster to be just a blockbuster anymore; it's 20 years after Tim Burton's Batman, and the brand-happy Batmania school of thought has become the dominant one in Hollywood, after all. But there's something about the Terminator Salvation tie-ins that just seem... I don't know, more cynical and much more missing-the-point-of-the-movie than usual. The Terminator franchise is one that fancies itself as dark, adult commentary on man's relationship with technology despite the explosions and the catchphrases and Axl Rose screeching that yew cewd be mih-ih-iiine in T2, and that intent, pretentious or not, is entirely undercut by seeing a Jeep double page ad in this week's People magazine that features a Terminator robot standing in a stream, fishing, with the tagline "Everyone can use a little break from judgment day."

(There are so many nerdy responses to that ad that I have to fight to keep down, to stop myself becoming the guy complaining about continuity nitpicks that no-one really cares about or even notices, but I can't help myself with this particular one: The Terminator Robots Don't Take Breaks! THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT. They're unstoppable killing machines, not "hardworking, but occasionally like to take breaks to go fishing, and who can begrudge them that, they've been working so hard" killing machines. Ahem.)

It's the same thing with slurpee tie-ins; with a movie like X-Men - or any of the other movies that've had the honor of becoming slurpee promotional flavors, like The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man 3, Iron Man or The Simpsons, for that matter - there's almost something of an inbuilt cheesiness, an already sold-out, quality that makes it easier to shrug this kind of thing off. They're movies without A Message; they're there to entertain and for the kids, so why not a slurpee? But Terminator: Salvation? Really? Isn't that the movie that McG is trying so hard to convince us is a movie that isn't just a cash-in on the earlier movies, but a serious, grim, movie with a purpose behind it? You'll have to excuse me; the cognitive dissonance has given me a headache.

Who would want to drink something called an Apocalyptic Ice Slurpee, anyway? Perhaps the most serious complaint, of course. They couldn't have come up with a better name? I could totally have gone for "Ice Be Back". Or "T-Yum Hundred." If you're going to sell out, people, then put some thought into it.

There's an element of aimless raging against the machine here, of course; it's unlikely that anyone will suddenly turn the Movie Machine into reverse and allow movies to breathe in the marketplace, nor cut back on the number of ridiculous and inappropriate product tie-ins to movies (Although, I have to admit, I still think that the Wolverine Schick Quattro Razor is a stroke of marketing genius). I just wish that someone would work out which movies can support them, and which ones end up looking worse because of them.