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The Pig of the Nineties

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Pig of the 90s logo
Pig of the 90s mock-up People cover

Mock People cover.

The Pig of the Nineties is a marketing campaign that was proposed by The Jim Henson Company in 1990, as a way to reinvigorate Miss Piggy's popularity.

A document from the Henson Company was reprinted in MuppetZine #13 in the summer of 1995, including some concept art and an outline of events planned to take place over several years. The pitch was outlined by writers Bill Prady and Jim Lewis, and conceptual designer Michael K. Frith.[1]

The first step of the campaign — a gossip item about Miss Piggy breaking up with Kermit — was published by People magazine in the May 14th, 1990 issue.[note 1] The campaign was dropped following the tragic passing of Jim Henson, just two days later.

Twenty-five years later, just prior to The Muppets premiering on ABC, Miss Piggy and Kermit announced that they would be ending their relationship. Similar to the proposed Pig of the Nineties campaign, the story was covered in several media outlets (Variety, People, etc.), official social media feeds, and a press conference held by ABC featuring the former couple as well as showrunners Bob Kushell and Bill Prady (who had worked on the original Pig of the Nineties proposal).[2]

Henson Company Document

Miss Piggy — the most popular porcine cultural icon of all time — has spent her life giving new meaning to the words flamboyance, glamour, elegance, and moi. She turned a generation on its ear, and she reached a height of popularity that few can stand without experiencing severe vertigo. Yet the frog always came first.

Now the moment has come for Miss Piggy to take her career into her own hands and achieve the prominence she deserves. It is time for her to broaden her focus, free herself from a codependent relationship with Kermit, and reestablish her place among the very brightest stars.

The Pig of the 90's campaign is a major public relations effort designed to do all this. Working with the Muppet production, public relations, licensing, and publishing departments, we have created a scenario that will refocus the eyes of the world on Piggy.

Our campaign will take Piggy from a well-publicized breakup with Kermit through a brief, well-documented period of soul-searching to a loud and triumphant return. This return will both spark and support a coordinated calendar of productions, books, theme-park events, and licensed products.

Miss Piggy is not just a star; she is symbolic of all great stars. Like Madonna, Bette, and Cher, Miss Piggy is larger than life, capable of weathering any storm and emerging — dripping wet, perhaps — but bigger and better than ever.

Below is a tentative outline of what will happen in the Pig of the 90's campaign (see Time Line for more specific dates).

Ann Landers Dump the Chump

Mock Ann Landers column.

1. A letter appears in the Ann Landers column, which is obviously from Piggy, asking for advice on how to handle an un-fulfilling relationship with a difficult frog. Ann advises. Press picks up on column. Piggy and Kermit respond.

2. TV special with surrounding publicity. Piggy and Kermit appear on The Today Show to promote the TV special. On the show, tension between Piggy and Kermit becomes very apparent. Piggy is obviously angry that she wasn't consulted about the Disney deal. She alludes to the fact that she was treated badly during the shooting of the special. She also drops hints about her dissatisfaction with the time Kermit has been spending in the company of Minnie Mouse, Jessica Rabbit, et cetera.

3. A live theatrical show is planned and also walk-around characters appear in Walt Disney World.

4. Subsequent to the Today Show appearance, Piggy appears on Today, The Tonight Show, Entertainment Tonight, or a similar forum to explain what's going on between the pig and the frog. Kermit could appear on a satellite feed to comment. Piggy announces that, for the first time, she has doubts about her relationship with Kermit, as well as doubts about where her career should head next. She has decided that it is in her best interests to go into seclusion and "find" herself. Kermit expresses surprise. People magazine is at the studio and has an exclusive on the breakup, which appears in its next issue.

5. Piggy appears on either a highly rated magazine-format show or a talk show (e.g., Oprah, Donahue, A Current Affair, et cetera). She admits that, after reading an article called "Smart Pigs, Foolish Choices," she realized that she had been in a codependent relationship with Kermit. A psychologist comes on to talk with her about the subject.

6. Piggy goes into a brief but well-publicized seclusion. We begin a print campaign orchestrated by her agent, Bernie. His releases respond to nonexistent rumors that the pig is gaining weight. (Actually, she has been gorging on chocolate and other sweets.)

7. Piggy searches for inner peace. Rumors of her gazing into crystals, channeling, going to the mountaintop, et cetera, get into the columns. There is a major release and photo in People, Star, or another publication.

NY Times author request

Mock NY Times ad.

8. An author's request appears in the New York Times Book Review. It asks for anyone who has information about the life of Miss Piggy, for use in a biography, to contact a certain post office box. The item is leaked to Liz Smith.

9. Piggy tells Entertainment Tonight that she knows nothing about a biography about her, that she hasn't authorized anyone to write her life story, and that she herself is thinking about doing a book. She plans to sue the author of the unauthorized biography as soon as she can find out who he or she is.

10. Piggy announces her return to show business. After much soul-searching, she has realized just how much the world needs her. She is making career decisions — e.g., to produce and direct her own movie, to move to L.A., to come out with her own line of licensed products — all those things one does to get over a frog. A photo is released of her and Michael Eisner in a quiet tête-à-tête. Rumor has it that Piggy is about to sign a multi-picture deal with Touchstone. She is also dating. Shots are published of her with stars such as Warren Beatty and Tom Cruise. Perhaps a romance is cooked up for her in The Star.

11. Piggy starts to make more and more appearances in print... she begins to look into launching her own perfume... she appears on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. A portion of the unauthorized biography, including photos, is released.

12. Piggy and Kermit appear together as presenters on the Academy Awards telecast. They are giving the Oscar for Best Short Subject; Piggy makes a crack about Kermit. Their banter is about their new, solely professional relationship. They also mention the fact that they're doing a movie.

13. The unauthorized biography of Piggy is released, with accompanying publicity. Piggy herself is trying to get an injunction against its publication, picketing the publisher's booth at an A.B.A., trying to buy up all the copies — anything to prevent its coming out. She appears on talk shows to decry the book. She also announces that she's hired a lawyer — perhaps Corbin Bernsen from LA Law — to handle the case. And Piggy announces that she has decided to do a book of her own — perhaps a coffee-table book about her life.

14. Special exclusive upscale licensing campaign linked to a major department store kicks off during the Easter season.

15. The Muppet section of Walt Disney World and the Muppet 3-D movie open in Florida.

16. Muppet movie number four opens.

17. Piggy's coffee-table book is published in fall 1991. Licensing gathers steam.

There is no real "ending" to this campaign, because any subsequent events will be dictated by the public's response to the above. By this time, the Piggy juggernaut will begin to take on its own momentum — fueling new production, product, and publishing opportunities.

Licensing: Product will be in two formats: editorially driven and design driven. The former will rely on a biting, quick, and clever editorial voice. Product examples are greeting cards, mugs, puzzles, and party supplies. The latter will reflect Piggy's flamboyant, romantic, and tres chic side. A design and/or logo will be developed to define Piggy at a glance, a la Polo, Izod. These products may include scarves, apparel, jewelry, and collectibles. The target audience for the Pig of the 90's campaign will be working women, ages 21 to 45. These women relate most to Piggy's struggle to make a place for herself in her career and in a relationship. A limited product line of scarves, jewelry, accessories, and apparel will appear initially in an exclusive Macy's boutique in the spring of '91. By fall '91, the product line will have been expanded to include gift and stationery items and will be rolled out for broader distribution.

Projected Timeline

Boston Globe May 1990

The Boston Globe picked up the short article written about Piggy's break-up in the May 14, 1990 issue of People magzine. [2] These are the only two known items executed during the campaign.

May 1990
  • Today Show appearance
  • Second Today Show appearance by Piggy to announce breakup
  • People exclusive on breakup
  • Kermit response to press
  • TV special
June 1990
July/August 1990
  • Piggy in seclusion
  • Photos, releases, column items, Piggy post cards, press releases from Bernie
September 1990
  • Exclusive - Piggy's photo released to national magazine
October 1990
  • Piggy emerges from seclusion. Photo and interview exclusive to national magazine
November 1990
  • New Pig campaign begins to pick up steam
  • Personal appearances, interviews, Macy's Day parade
  • Author Query appears in N.Y. Times Book Review
  • Celebrity photos, tease of her new career continues
  • Piggy press conference to respond to un-authorized biography rumors and announce publication of her own book
December 1990
February 1991
  • Excerpts from unauthorized biography leaked to press Guys and Dolls?
  • Piggy reaction to excerpts
March/April 1991
  • Unauthorized bio published: Call me Moi! The Unauthorized Biography of Miss Piggy
  • Heavy media on new Piggy, Piggy denying unauthorized biography
  • Special appearances to promote Macy's boutique
May/June 1991
Fall 1991
  • Coffee-table book published: Piggy: A Life in Pictures

See also

Notes

  1. People (May 14, 1990, Vol. 33, No. 19) Chatter by Peter Castro — PIGGING OUT: The Muppets' MISS PIGGY has decided to leapfrog over her boyfriend KERMIT, calling an end to their 14-year romance. "I had just had it with being taken for granted," says Miss Piggy, who showed considerable irritation with her green-skinned beau on last Sunday's (May 6) The Muppets at Walt Disney World special on NBC. "Moi has devoted my life to making Kermit happy and never received anything in return, except a Cubic Zirconia ring he bought from the Home Shopping Network. It has been tres difficult for moi but la vie goes on. I need to talk to my publicist." Will Her Pigness ever date another frog? "I don't think so. Frogs have cute senses of humor, but they also have a lack of ability to commit, lack of consideration and appalling table manners. I don't know about my future. Perhaps I'll direct a movie or run for public office. But right now, I just want to be alone." [1]

Sources

  1. E-mail correspondence with Bill Prady via Scott Hanson
  2. "TCA: Kermit and Miss Piggy’s Break-Up Helps Promote ABC’s New ‘Muppets’ Series" by Cynthia Littleton, Variety, August 4, 2015

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