I'm kind of hesitant to call this a "series" or even a "miniseries" for that matter due to (a) concerns about how much longer i'll be around to do Muppet Freak (i'm already on borrowed time) and (b) when it comes right down to it, articles like this really shouldn't even have to exist. If a company is completely true to the spirit of Henson, doing the right thing should always come naturally. "Bad Business" articles shouldn't ever occur and "Good Business" articles should be as newsworthy as the sky being blue another day.
But two recent events in the world of Muppet/Henson fandom really do deserve special comment. The "Bad" example is an article i've had in the works for months now and have been hinting at for quite some time. The "Good" example is however such an extraordinary example of how Henson-Legacy Companies should behave that a direct contrast between the two really highlights the extreme differences between them so it's through that lens that i shall discuss them here.
So let's kick off with our "Good Business" Spotlight on The Jim Henson Company for its stance against corporate-sponsored bigotry.
Everything started out innocently enough. It's become an American Institution for entertainment companies to partner up with restaurants and food establishments (particularly of the fast food variety) to offer premiums in cross promotions, often focused around the "kids meals" Henson Company/The Muppets have done this numerous times over the decades. Heck, they've even been SELLING chicken practically from the earliest days...
How many of us have Jack in the Box Muppet figures sharing shelf space with our Palisades Muppet action figures or still have - and drink out of - our McDonald's Great Muppet Caper Glasses? Henson's partnership with Chick-Fil-A was hardly new. As early as 2003, CFA was offering Bear in the Big Blue House books and just last year, as Pajanimals was celebrating its expansion from shorts to a television series in October, Pajanimals board books were offered at the chain with Melissa Segal, SVP of consumer products at Henson Co. noting at the time: “Chick-Fil-A came to us awhile ago. With the series also launching on Sprout this month the timing just couldn’t be better." Because of the success of the Pajanimals books, Henson partnered with CFA again this year, this time with a promotion themed around the Jim Henson Creature Shop.
(Come back soon to see who wins the Muppet Freak "Bad Business" Award...which still needs a good name before we hand it out...)