Clever movie promotions and hilarious racial coincidences (or not?)

Earlier this week, 7-Eleven announced that it will convert a dozen of its stores into Kwik-E-Marts, the fictional convenience stores in The Simpsons universe, and those stores plus most of the other 6,000+ 7-Eleven stores will begin selling items from the television show, all to promote the soon-to-be-released Simpsons Movie. It’s a clever advertising campaign, combining good ol’ brick-and-mortar coverage and the box office draw of a big summer movie release, especially clever when the stores are as well-known as 7-Eleven and the draw is as powerful as that of The Simpsons in general, a franchise that is almost a decade old, that permeates pop culture, and around which there is a cult-like devotion.

For me however, aside from the clever movie promotion, the reason I’m writing about this is not because I’m necessarily a big fan of The Simpsons— I think it’s a funny show and I watched it pretty regularly at some point, but I really don’t get the cult-like devotion (including how everybody would grab their dinner and rush to watch the reruns in the lounge during college) and frenzied anticipation surrounding the movie. Instead, when discussing the news in the office this week (a particular coworker is our in-house Simpsons devotee and expert, often taking any and all opportunities to relate real life situations, work-related or otherwise, to Simpsons episodes), a coworker (not the same one) told a hilarious story that, on his behalf, I just had to blog (hopefully, I’m summarizing relatively accurately):

On Monday, he got a call from “Brooke” from ABC 7; she left a message, asking him to please call her back at 415… So, naturally curious, he called back and she said she was calling about the Kwik-E-Mart promotion. He was obviously confused, but then realized she was trying to call a 7-Eleven in Mountain View when she asked, “Is this the 7-Eleven on Pear Road?” He said, “No, this is a private residence,” and that was that, but the hilarious coincidence– or not– is that he is, in fact, Indian! And he has, in fact, gotten a “wrong number” call at least once before for 7-Eleven!

I did some digging around– online and offline– and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how they thought his phone number was the number for the 7-Eleven on Pear Avenue. Aside from the fact that the numbers aren’t actually similar in any way and the phonebook, online and offline, doesn’t even list the number for that store (which is weird in and of itself– Google simply lists it as (650) 555-5555), the way to find the correct contact info for the store is easy enough: first, the 7-Eleven website lists the new Kwik-E-Mart locations, including the San Francisco/Mountain View store. I don’t know why, but while the address is listed, the phone number isn’t. However, the 7-Eleven website does have, like most retail company sites, a “store locator” feature and if you search for the closest store near Pear Avenue in Mountain View, CA, you get the correct contact info, including phone number.

So, hilarious coincidence or is someone out there picking Indian surnames out of the phonebook in search of Apu?

(And no, my coworker’s name isn’t Apu.)

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