When it comes to real life products being inspired by fictional ones, we can point to visionary TV series like Star Trek conceptualizing automatic sliding doors and clamshell phones before those technologies were ever marketplace realities.
A far lazier extension of this phenomenon is simply taking a brand that's become ubiquitous from its affiliation with something in our collective pop culture psyche and attaching it to a generic product. Take the Staples (SPLS) subsidiary Quill.com that just brokered a deal with NBC Universal (CMCSA) to license the name Dunder Mifflin, the fictional paper company of its hit series The Office, for a new line of copy paper.
This move even follows a major storyline of the show last season when Dunder Mifflin became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tallahassee, Florida-based electronics conglomerate Sabre. Let's just hope the Dunder Mifflin name serves Quill.com better than it has Dunder Mifflin. In make-believe land on The Office, the company is constantly struggling to stay relevant in an industry overtaken by big-box retailers like OfficeMax (OMX), Office Depot (ODP) and (now, ironically) Staples.
With slogans on its packaging like "Our motto is, 'Quabity [sic] First'" and "Get Your Scrant on," (after the Scranton, Pennsylvania Dunder Mifflin branch and the setting of the show), the quality of the paper had better exceed that of the copywriting.
Of course, this is by no means the first attempt to license fictional products to be sold on the real-life market. Breweries in Mexico and Europe have managed to manufacture Homer Simpson's proud poison, Duff beer. Comedy Central partnered with the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo to offer Cheesy Poofs, South Park Cartman's snack food of choice, in Wal-Mart (WMT) stores. And who could forget the ACME anvils ambushing the Road Runner's efforts against the coyote in the Warner Brothers cartoons?
To be fair, Sears did sell them first.
More From Minyanville
- Outsourcing Behind Bars
- 20 Investing Questions You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask, Part 1
- Overzealous Walmart Shopper Pepper Sprays Fellow Bargain Hunters
- Dunder Mifflin
- Office Depot