I’m a long-time fan of the Muppets so obviously I follow Kermit the Frog on Twitter. As I was scrolling through my timeline I was genuinely shocked to see the statement below, stating he and Miss Piggy were no longer an item.
“After careful thought, thoughtful consideration and considerable squabbling, we have made the difficult decision to terminate our romantic relationship. We will continue to work together on television (“The Muppets”/Tuesdays 8pm this fall on ABC) and in all media now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, throughout the universe. However, our personal lives are now distinct and separate, and we will be seeing other people, pigs, frogs, et al. This is our only comment on this private matter... unless we get the right offer. Thank you for your understanding.”
Now, I’m not stupid, I know they’re ‘only’ puppets but it was like hearing that Winnie the Pooh and Piglet are no longer friends, or Batman had terminated Robin’s contract of employment.
After I got over my initial sadness (honestly, I’m very attached to them), I realised what a brilliant PR stunt this is. It turns out Miss Piggy had originally made the announcement on her Facebook page which also mentions the new Muppet show in the second sentence. What better way to promote a new TV programme than to get the entire internet talking about the main characters – even if they are made of felt?
Less than 24 hours after the Facebook post appeared, the story had been covered by Sky News, TIME, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, BBC News, People Magazine, The Guardian, Daily Mail, Express, Telegraph, Metro, The Independent and many, many more. What PR wouldn’t want that level of coverage a month before a new series aired?
I have form when it comes to buying into the fantasy lives of characters. I was a member of the Edd the Duck fan club, lusted after my own Gordon the Gopher and have a collection of everything Lumpy – a character introduced to the Winnie the Pooh stories a few years ago. I was also one of the people who traipsed round London recently to find as many models of Shaun the Sheep as I could on the very successful Shaun in the City trail, raising money for charity and creating hours of simple fun for fans.
ABC would not have been able to pull off the coverage achieved if the Muppets weren’t already hugely popular, but it is a fantastic example of what can be done with a little lateral thinking. A Facebook post announcing the new series would not have gained anything like that amount of media interest but because the characters have such a huge fan base, journalists decided Miss Piggy dumping Kermit (yes, apparently she initiated the split) is news.
In a similar vein, there are numerous articles available on whether Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie are gay. Sesame Workshop President Gary Knell cleared up the speculation with a statement saying: “They are not gay, they are not straight, they are puppets. They don’t exist below the waist.”
So is the latest celebrity couple to split just a PR stunt? It seems Kermit already has another girlfriend – funnily enough she works on the new show – but personally I’m hoping this is just a clever bit of marketing and the frog and pig will be back together in the not too distant future.
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