OCEAN CITY – The Simpsons’ character “Blinky the Three-Eyed Fish” is coming to Ocean City over Labor Day weekend.
During Monday evening’s Mayor and City Council legislative session, BeCore Marketing Business Development Director Roger Malinowski came before the council to request approval to place a marketing activation on the beach downtown between Wicomico and North Division streets on Saturday, Aug. 30.
According to Ocean City Special Events Coordinator Lisa Mitchell, the marketing activation of The Simpsons’ character “Blinky the Three-Eyed Fish” will consist of a weighted and secured, family friendly inflatable on the sand flanked by two wrapped promotional vehicles and surrounded by branded caution tape
BeCore Marketing works on behalf of FX and FXX, who recently paid $750 million to acquire repeats of The Simpsons and has launched a 12-day marathon through Labor Day, which is the longest TV marathon in history.
“They [FX/FXX] are taking over the Simpsons catalog, and this a marketing promotion to reinforce that … We will be running a marathon of those episodes over Labor Day weekend, so this is all targeted around that,” Malinowski said. “The reason we chose beautiful Ocean City is because it is a beautiful place to be with great family foot traffic during a high traffic season here in Maryland. We wanted to go where the families are being a family show and being a show that has been running for the past 25 years, set many records. We just saw this as a great place to give a lot people a lot of impressions and further reinforce our activation.”
Malinowski explained Blinky is a mutated fish that appeared in the first season of The Simpsons and has been a recurring character.
“We chose him because he is one of the deeper characters in the show for all of the Simpsons nerds like myself that pay attention to the show. It is a tip of the hat to the true Simpsons fan that truly appreciates the fact that all 25 years of the show is going to FXX,’ he said. “He is also a beach character that would be appropriate in a beach setting. We are also doing this in Huntington Beach, Daytona Beach, and Galveston Island but we would also love to be here in Ocean City.”
Malinowski concluded the promotion will be based on social media exposing Ocean City to millions. On Facebook alone, FXX has over 17,000 fans, FX has over 203,000 fans and the Simpsons has over 74 million fans.
“The fish is actually from a toxic river. That is why it has three eyes. He is not from the ocean. It is two-fold really. To give the impression that he came from the ocean would be wrong and to give the impression that we have any three-eyed fish in the ocean would be wrong, too. I don’t think there is much of an upside for the Town of Ocean City,” Councilman Joe Mitrecic said.
Councilman Brent Ashley pointed out Tourism and Marketing Director Donna Abbott commented that she does not see any benefit to tourism with this publicity stunt.
“While the inflatable is based on a cartoon, its tie in with a toxic lake actually causes a little concern with using our beautiful and clean beach as a back drop,” Abbott said.
“I appreciate the concern but toxicity is not in the messaging whatsoever. We are not saying the fish necessarily walked up on shore, maybe he is just here on vacation. There is no call out to quality of water. There is no discussion of any toxic element to this at all. In fact, the show never actually concludes it was caused by toxic or it was just mutated,” Malinowski said.
Council President Lloyd Martin said he could go either way as the promotion could draw a lot of attention during a busy time in Ocean City but he does not want it to cause any type of negativity.
Councilman Dennis Dare acknowledged the Recreation and Parks Commission’s apprehension over the event when it was first proposed before the commission last week.
“Now hearing it here more in context, I mean who takes the Simpsons seriously associating a three-eye fish with a polluted ocean. It is a sitcom not a documentary,” Dare said.
Council Secretary Mary Knight hesitantly made the motion of approving having Blinky set-up on the beach on Aug. 30.
“My enthusiasm for promotions is going to outweigh any other concerns that I have,” said Ashley in seconding the motion.
The council voted 5-2 with Council members Margaret Pillas and Mitrecic in opposition.