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5 Most Ridiculous Hunger Games Marketing Schemes

Advertisers want fans to identify with elites who force children to fight to the death in the name of entertainment and oppression.



Just two days before the first Hunger Games movie opened in theaters in March 2012, asked:

“IfThe Hunger Games is so popular, where are the promotional tie-ins?”

The response, at the time, would have seemed pretty obvious to anyone who had read even one novel in Suzanne Collins’s wildly successful young adult series. The highly anticipated film was going to be about a dystopic future in which children are forced to kill each other, live on television, for the amusement of the ruling elite. The Hunger Games novels are great, and they’re insightful about things like violence, spectacle, and mass entertainment in contemporary culture, but the premise didn’t really seem like the kind of thing that sells kid’s meal toys, Slurpees, or Lunchables (the Forbes article’s actual examples).

Just 18 months later, though, with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opening on Friday, the marketplace seems to have revised its answer. Advertisers have figured out the way to use  Hunger Games to sell products is to cast us—the American movie-going, merchandise-purchasing public—in the role of the story's villains.

Consider the following:

1. Hunger Games Makeup

CoverGirl takes the cake for outrageous promotions, at least in the buildup to the second Hunger Games film. The makeup giant is advertising  The Capitol Collection, with 12 separate looks: one for each of the stories’ oppressed, impoverished districts. In their online "Capitol Beauty Studio,' you can explore the 12 different shades of eye makeup, lipstick, and nail polish that are meant to evoke the districts’ designated industries.

In Katniss’s home of District 12, located in “what used to be called Appalachia,” the industry is, of course, coal mining. The model on the Cover Girl website wears black and yellow to represent the colors of this district. Katniss Everdeen, it must be said, doesn’t wear mascara, shadow pencil, or “sizzle gloss," but gaudy elites in the story dress up in the colors for which they're rooting.

To understand CoverGirl’s marketing, imagine a Star Wars promotion where the only role available was the Imperial Stormtroopers, Lord of the Rings-themed orc makeup, or blonde hair dye and sunscreen to look like Harry Potter’s foil, Draco Malfoy. Or, picture a Nazi costume sold in a box that says "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

2. Hunger Games Birthday Parties

Online retailers package Hunger Games party invitations, mockingjay cupcake rings and cake toppers, along with toy bows, arrows, and grenades.

However, in The Hunger Games, a child’s birthday brings her another year closer to the “reaping,” the lottery that determines who enters the arena to kill and die for the nation’s amusement.

Here’s Katniss Everdeen, the novels’ heroine, on children getting older:

"You become eligible for the reaping the day you turn twelve. That year, your name is entered once. At thirteen, twice. And so on and so on until you reach the age of eligibility, when your name goes into the pool seven times."

Children’s birthday parties, it seems obvious, are not something to celebrate in her world.

3. Hunger Games Weddings

Ahead of its time in March 2011, Bridal Guide ran 500 words, and 20-some images, on “ Hunger Games wedding ideas,” including invitations notifying guests: “You have been selected by the lottery of PANEM to represent your district.” It brings you to a host of Pinterest pages that turn the novels’ iconography and language into wedding decorations and vows. Recall, here, that Katniss and Peeta are 16 years old when the story starts, and that by the time they say or do anything romantic, they’re running for their lives.

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