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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Complete Failure of TMNT25

I learned a very important lesson today: Pole-dancing Ninja Turtles are completely acceptable so long as the pole is the top of the Empire State Building.

But that lesson comes at the end of this long story, so let's start back at the beginning.

This afternoon I received a mass e-mail sent to me because I registered my e-mail address at, the Web site (supposedly) dedicated to the 25th Anniversary of the TMNT. The complete contents of this email can be seen by clicking that bar thing on the left there. It's not unusual for me to see something from the TMNT25 team, anchored by some folks at Peppercom, and be disappointed by its pointlessness and consistant lack of professionalism. So far we've seen pajama TMNT "costumes" at Comic-Con last year (and they were sooooo proud of these), a pointless Twitter account that gives weather updates more than anything else, a crappy Web site still full of inaccurate information, an April with a Kill Bill jumpsuit, and now the e-mail that arrived today.

Considering the extremely low impression all of these things have left me with, I think I have shown great restraint in expressing how I really feel about this ridiculous anniversary campaign, or whatever you want to call it. I don't know exactly why I haven't been as vocal as I really feel... Maybe because I'm constantly accused of being unnecessarily negative. Maybe because I respect the fact that the people at Peppercom are people who need jobs, just like the rest of us. Maybe because, despite popular opinion, I actually have no desire to be the topic of Peter Laird's rants in the back of his comic book. Whatever the case may have been, this e-mail proved to be a breaking point for me. There's no stopping me on this one. I am tearing this piece of crap inside out. Oh, and apologies in advance; due to the nature of the subject of this email, this blog is going to break all conventional rules of blogs.

Let's start by looking at this as a single image. The dimensions of this image are 820 pixels wide by 8835 pixels high. For some perspective, consider that not too long ago the average computer monitor resolution was only 800 pixels wide, making 820 within an email a bit excessive, although not horrible. But what the hell kind of e-mail marketing is 8835 pixels high?!! 8835!! The whole thing is actually composed of 13 separate jpegs. This is more than just a little excessive! This is something I might tolerate receiving from my mom, but certainly not from a professional PR company actually trying to be taken seriously.

Then there's the actual quality of the image. If you think the image you see when you click on that bar above is a poorly compressed copy of the original, you would be sadly mistaken. That is exactly how the image appeared in the sent e-mail. Poor image compression is an instant red flag that points out people who either A) Are brand new to the Internets, or B) Have no freakin' clue how to properly use even a basic photo editing program. Jpegs are compressed image files. The more compression, the smaller the files size, but the crappier the picture. If you're trying to sell something, you should be going for presentation. This presentation is nothing but Fail.

Now let's look at what is actually in the image.

Here we have what I think is supposed to be the Turtle Van, a manhole cover, and a ladder. This would be ok... if a 7-year-old drew it.

Next we have the four Turtles, apparently dropping down into the sewer while frozen in poses that do not seem likely to accompany such an activity. And the text balloons were apparently done by the same 7-year-old who drew the top part.

Here's the next part. Leo and Mike are still frozen in the same poses while Don has exactly mirrored his previous pose. Raph seems to have managed to land on a ledge just in time to tell us they're going "Back to the sewers." If that was supposed to be a clever reference to the most recent season of the 4Kids cartoon, it fails.

Ok, taking the next part in smaller segments. The Turtles are still falling and both Mike and Don feel it's a good time to start kicking. Unfortunately, this means I see quite a bit more of Mike's butt than I'm comfortable with. And that 7-year-old kid tried to get fancy by suggesting a motion blur with the upper portion of Mike's entire body.

And here we have Leo and Raph, still falling. This is the perfect time to make mention of the clip art that is so abuntant here. If you haven't noticed yet, it all sucks. The majority of it was drawn by artists at 4Kids, who in most cases simply redrew poses from the original TMNT 2K3 style guide by Michael Dooney (which was also replicated by the team at Imagi for the 2007 movie). None of these poses are really fitting for the cartoony Turtles they are meant to represent and the actual style of the art doesn't match the cartoony Turtles being emulated (note the huge knee and elbow pads). And some of the pieces, particularly Donatello, appear to feature cleavage. Also, where is Leo's neck? It's my theory that the 4Kids artists only drew the bodies of the Turtles while a stock Turtle head was pasted onto the body.


Wait, what?

Sadly, I don't think we can expect any Eisner awards for this, or even nominations.

Sorry, that was a lie. I'm not sad.

No, actually I wasn't asking...

Hey, shouldn't you guys have landed by now?


Ok, calming down... sorta. Lemme get this straight. The Turtles just fell into the sewers and onto what appears to be the top of the Empire State Building. I might be willing to accept that, but they really seem to be getting a little too friendly with the antenna there!! Particularly Mike and Don. I'm not even sure how Raph and Leo are holding on (and I probably don't want to know).

Quick, it says to click to escape this overly-suggestive image!!


Oh, look, there's a video...


Calming down a bit (again), I think the completely rational thing to do at this point in time is to look at a few screen shots from this hellish 12-second video (hopefully created by the same 7-year-old who put together all the jpegs).

We start out the same as we left the e-mail. Hardly comforting. And apparently New York rains green ooze.

As the video gets going, the Turtles slide down the Empire State Building with the antenna between their legs. And we see that the building has a light switch at the top.

As the Turtles continue to slide down the building it becomes clear that Leo and Raph are only heads hovering in the back.

A bit farther down and the Turtles hit the light switch! Oooh, the Empire State Building now glows green! Impressive!! Luckily, the horror is now truly over.

Hmmm, I would say, "No thank you," but the truth is that I look forward to the "Next Episode" in that bad car crash kind of way. And Peppercom is being paid $1 million for all of this! (I seriously need a gig that pays an insane amount of money for crap.)

To wrap up: Poor production quality aside, how the hell is this acceptable for children, who are obviously the target audience? And I know it's not just me who's disturbed by this.

I forwarded the e-mail to a friend of mine who is mom to a 3-year-old. She replied expressing the same horror I felt when I saw it. I was so upset with the whole matter that I contacted Rob at Peppercom, who is in charge of the TMNT25 activities. This is the reply I got:

As always, we appreciate your input but want to clarify that the pole is the top of the Empire State Building.

Um, yeah, I got that. It doesn't make anything better though.

Fail, Peppercom. FAIL.


  1. Ha Ha! I'm glad someone was disappointed and confused by this whole thing. I expected the ultimate payoff after scrolling down that Enormous jpeg email. When it told me to stay tuned for the next episode I had to remind myself that I apparently had just watched an "episode." Boy, 1 million dollars just doesn't go as far as it used to?

    And Leonardo's lack of neck bugs me something fierce! :-D

    I think "fail" is a warranted term in this case. I'll be the next email image forces us to scroll endlessly left to right rather than north to south.

  2. I saw that this morning and couldn't believe my eyes. I thought we'd hit bottom by now. Clearly, I was wrong.

  3. I'd be careful of hitting bottom; there's an Empire State Building down there. ;)

  4. I don't even bother looking at the site anyway.

    The people who run the site are evidently not qualified to run it. If this was a Disney product, the staff would have probably been sacked with a bad refference for life.

  5. what a bunch of shit I could run and design a better site and advertisment campaign. @_@
    Oh wait that's right I asked and would have done it for free I forgot about that but I was turned down.

  6. Great post! :D This email was a big disappointment. I mean, all that effort and misuse of clip art just to say that the Turtles will be somewhere in NYC and that we should "stay tuned"? I suppose my main complaint about the TMNT25 campaign is that I don't understand in what direction it's going and why I should be interested.

    By the way, each one of those images was between 50-100K each. Meaning, that single email ate up about 1 MEG of space in your mailbox. Not to mention the fact that it would take forever to open up on a dail-up connection.

  7. I'm so glad I wasn't the only one disappointed by this. The e-mail was huge and horribly done. Maybe the e-mail blast was set up by a low ranking member of the foot?

  8. I hadn't seen the April photo before! That looks like the Kill Bill costume sold in Target and Halloween Express. And they tried to cover the character up with a giant sticker!

    That made me laugh so hard I'm now crying.

  9. Blame the company's idea and direction, not the artist, who for all we know is just someone trying to make a paycheck at someone else's direction.

  10. I think I put fair blame on all parties involved.

    There's really nothing justifiable about any of this. A good PR company has good artists, plain and simple. I actually wouldn't be surprised if no real artists were used to put this together.

    At the end of the day we're all people just trying to make a paycheck; accepting poor quality work from anyone isn't helpful to a company or a person.

  11. At the end of the day we're all people just trying to make a paycheck; accepting poor quality work from anyone isn't helpful to a company or a person

    No better way to say it, period.

  12. When i heard about the anniversary thing, i was looking forward for a special shellebration for us, the tmnt fans in latin america, but after seeing all this, please, peppercom, don´t bring that rubish to latin america.

  13. -->> stupid email is not the end of the world, Nacho.


  14. Maybe the end of what could have been an important celebration.

  15. -->> also depends on how much you let this type of stuff effect you.

  16. I think it's pretty obvious nobody (Mirage, Peppercom, etc) really cares about the TMNT25 campaign. Maybe they need a licensing agent who is really excited about the property and can uphold some sort of standards. Peter Laird doesn't seem to have any standards at all anymore when it comes to Turtle product, and despite what they say about it "appealing to kids," I don't exactly see Turtles stuff flying off the shelves at toy stores (unless it's into the clearance section)...

  17. It's such a shame when a great product is poorly marketed. A 25 year anniversary is a great opportunity for Mirage to get people re-interested in the TMNT and potential boost the sales of their comics, and as someone else posted earlier, right now, I'm not sure why I should be interested in the 25th anniversary of the turtles at all.

    Just a real shame.

  18. -->> ..well totally giving up all hope is a good way to start in not only destroying your interest in TMNT ..

    but also in totally letting it be ruined for you and tainted permanantly, Dan.