Is 'Eat, Pray, Love' Selling Out? A Look at the Merchandising Plan
By Jo Piazza Posted Apr 11th 2010 01:00PM
Would you buy an 'Eat, Pray, Love' necklace? What if Julia Roberts looks really really pretty wearing one in the upcoming movie from Sony Pictures? Would you buy it then? Los Angeles-based jewelry company Dogeared, maker of pretty trinkets like "karma" and "chakra" necklaces, is betting that plenty of folks will answer yes to that question and has inked a deal with Sony Pictures to make merchandise co-branded with the film.
Fred Segal and ABC Carpet & Home have already decided to stock the collection of jewelry, trinkets, travel baubles and pretty lady things, with prices ranging from $20 to $100. "We relate to the theme of a woman's journey for self-fulfillment and happiness," the founder of Dogeared told WWD. Because self-fulfillment and happiness usually come in the form of gold-plated necklaces, mood rings and love beads.
But should we lady consumers feel insulted by the blatant merchandising push behind a movie that is ostensibly about a woman eschewing the trappings of her material existence to try to find herself?
At first glance, of course, this makes sense. Devoted fans of Elizabeth Gilbert's 'Eat, Pray, Love' already know that the book has been thrown in the commercializing sausage maker of movie-land and spit out with Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem looking impossibly gorgeous even as they sweat themselves silly in Bali. Movies these days make money through ticket sales and merchandising. That is why there are about 100 'Shrek' sequels.
"I think it's a smart move. In an era where cartoon characters get plastered on Burger King cups and actors who play superheroes get turned into action figures, a jewelry line connected to a movie isn't far-fetched in the least," says Lilit Marcus, managing editor of The Gloss.
It is smart and it certainly worked for 'Sex and the City,' which released a barrage of 'SATC' themed panties, jewels and booze when the first movie hit theaters. But 'Eat, Pray, Love' is supposed to be something different. It's supposed to be about one woman's search for fulfillment and love as she travels the globe, not as she trots across Manhattan in $700 shoes.
"It's so freaking Hollywood. I'm not at all surprised that a movie about inner peace is being capitalized upon. Nor am I surprised that the writer quietly found zen and sublimated her ego... only to go on Oprah and trumpet loudly from every corner about how enlightened she is. That will be $13.95, please. Everything is fair game, nothing is sacred -- especially not spirituality. Prayer beads, diamond crosses, first-class retreats in Bhutan, what have you," says Nadine Jolie, columnist for Stylite.com.
Merchandising and product placement are so expected these days, especially concerning the all important female 20-40 year-old consumer with disposable income, that maybe no one will be shocked by the appearance of 'Eat, Pray, Love' baubles. And maybe most movie fans will just embrace them without giving a thought to the cheapening of the movie's message through the buying of stuff.
"I don't necessarily think the merchandise is overkill, because it's traditionally been a major way celebrities earn cash. Things like concert T-shirts to movie mementos and memorabilia have been around for quite some time, but it's a more recent phenomenon to see major motion pictures doing it to such a degree. As long as they don't interrupt the film with ads for Julia Roberts' shoes, I won't be bothered," says StyleList editor Marissa Gold.
We aren't putting that one past them.
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