This weekend marked the release of Bee Movie, the much-hyped animated movie chronicling an insect’s post-collegiate experience (and Jerry Seinfeld’s first major project in almost ten years). The movie ranked second at the box office over the weekend, thanks to the buzz (pun unavoidable) created by the Bee Movie TV Juniors, a series of one-to-two minute comedic sketches promoting the movie several weeks before its nationwide opening.
Running during the commercial breaks of primetime NBC shows like “The Office” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” some media critics have applauded the network’s pact with Seinfeld, suggesting they have set the precedent for the future of innovative marketing. Others, however, find the cameo-ridden segments starring Seinfeld himself to be excessive, confusing, and downright unfunny. Three of the spots that go behind-the-scenes of animated films can be watched on NBC’s website and have even been coined ‘marketing whorism’ at its best.
How do these Junior spots fend with television insiders? Kim Chalmers, a producer for Nick Jr. on-air promotions, said, “I try to watch them and I can’t even understand why they’re being made or what they’re supposed to mean. It scares me a little, because it made me wonder if anything we [Nick Jr.’s promo department] do seem that nonsensical to our viewers.” As a mere sub-plot to the movie’s grand marketing scheme that included months of trailers, countless talk show appearances, strategic plot tie-ins on NBC’s “30 Rock,” and Jerry Seinfeld himself in bee costume at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, maybe the Bee Movie TV Juniors are deserving of an “A,” if only for effort.