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The Hulk Is A Whore

Posted on July 30, 2003 and read 12,258 times

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Last night, like any other night, I wandered into the pharmacy to check out the make-up and catch up on the latest products. As I entered my local Shoppers Drug Mart I expected to see toilet paper promotions, suntan lotions, and new scents for deodorant, but instead I saw the Hulk. No not Hulk Hogan the infamous wrestler, but The Hulk, comic book character, TV personality and now big screen big action star.

He was everywhere; you name it, chips, garbage bags, cookies, crackers, Jell-O, toys and even night-lights. I was shocked; I don’t think I have ever seen cross-promotional marketing on such a large scale. I am usually so excited about these products but this year I felt gross. It looked to me like this summers blockbuster’s products had consumed every possible brand. This overexposure of The Hulk made these brands look foolish and gimmicky. It also led me to think about the character himself, The Hulk. How could The Hulk’s keeper whore him out like this?

Now I must begin by saying that upon writing this piece I have not yet seen the film “The Hulk” so I do not proclaim to be an expert but I am in advertising so I understand the theory behind cross-promotions. Take a great product and associate it to a hot new film and voila it makes this product hip and cool (er). Also if the film can relate to a characteristic of a product or is seen in the film then you have a match made in heaven. For example Glad Garbage bags are tough, so is the Hulk. But in my opinion any other connection seems ridiculous. The Hulk and night-lights, I just don’t get it.

I remember the days of the film E.T when a product had a deep relationship with its film. When E.T ate those Reeses Pieces, I wanted them and I was able to buy them. To this day when I eat Reeses Pieces I am reminded of that film. Product-placement can clearly be a powerful thing.

As a consumer before an advertiser I know that brands should have integrity. Reeses Pieces feels like they have integrity. They were in a great film and it feels true to who they are. Not all products can be so lucky. If every summer a new character is slapped onto the package I start to forget who they were before the face lifts. I know that if my products start jumping on every bandwagon I’m not so sure that I want to hang out with them anymore. I think the same can be said for films. A great film should stand on its own. After too many cross promotions with every brand out there you start to wonder if this film has any substance or is just out for the money.

I left the Pharmacy in a tizzy. You go in for Tampons and you come out wondering what is going on in the world we live in. A little more than I had planned to contemplate so I decided to walk it off. As I exited the building a city bus passed by displaying a huge poster for the film that had set me on this walk. When the bus cleared I was left starring at him again at the Jeep dealership, The Hulk obviously won’t stand for anything but 0% financing.

I couldn’t help but wonder where I was. Had I entered the pharmacy and the world turned into Hulk Land, like some Twilight Zone episode. All of these images reminded of my trip to Abu Dhabi in the Middle East, where the Sheik’s portrait decorates the city streets. The people of Abu Dhabi love the Sheik for his benevolence and show their affection for him by erecting his portrait. I was hoping this was not the case with the Hulk.

Now I am left with an empty feeling that I can’t shake because everywhere I go I discover more and more Hulk products. After seeing him everywhere I will have to be dragged to his film but apparently that’s just me. To date The Hulk has made something like 18.4 million. I can’t fault the film but I can fault its marketers who have let every brand and their mother uses his face. I guess I’m disappointed that it’s all about money. For The Hulk and all of its cross-promotional brands money is what matters, not the film or the brand. Guess it’s a lesson I had to learn. One question I have is what about next summer; can cross-promotional marketing get any larger than this? I am afraid to find out what kind of land we’ll then be living in then.


Julie Stolberg
Copywriter






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