When Kate first happened across the tweenpop hydra that goes by the name of the Clique Girlz six months ago, she upbraided them for their credit bubblegum (“Perhaps their only vice is shopping and maxing their parents credit cards at stores like Hot Topic, Betsey Johnson, and Ed Hardy”), their gleeful willingness to pander to the Christian-pop world, and their seemingly freakish ability to seem completely weathered before their Sweet 16s even got to the planning stage. It would seem that the kids who serve as the Girlz’ target demographic reacted in a much more healthy way to the blonde troika’s antics: They’re “in danger of washing out of the entertainment industry before their first full CD comes to market,” according to a report in today’s New York Times. Unless, of course, the unlikely pairing of nipple-shaped candy and former Disney CEO Michael Eisner can save them!
But the Clique Girlz, who hail from Egg Harbor Township, N.J., have been thrown what could turn out to be a lifeline — and from no lesser a judge of talent than Michael D. Eisner, the former chief executive of the Walt Disney Company.
Topps, the candy and collectibles company that Mr. Eisner bought in 2007, has signed the Clique Girlz as commercial spokeswomen for Baby Bottle Pop, one of the Top 10 nonchocolate candy brands. The candy has two parts, a nipple-shaped lollipop top and a bottle-shaped container filled with fruit-flavored powder. Consumers are meant to lick the top and dip it into the powder. The performers will have their photo on Topps packaging, appear in television ads on Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Toon Disney, and in a print campaign set for teeny-bopper must-reads like Twist magazine.
Topps will also emphasize the group on the Baby Bottle Pop Web site (babybottlepop.com), offering webisodes, ring tones, games and a tour tracker, starting next month. The centerpiece of the deal calls for the group to “re-imagine” the Baby Bottle Pop ad jingle, well-known among 6- to 12-year-old girls. “They haven’t popped yet, but the elements are there, and we’re superexcited,” said Ari Weinstock, director of marketing for Topps.
Will distracting the tween masses while they’re in sugar comas work out for the Girlz? Well, there’s a somewhat ominous precursor to this sleight of marketing:
The Jonas Brothers signed a nearly identical life-support deal with Topps in the period between getting dropped by Sony and being signed by Walt Disney Records in the summer of 2007. Mr. Weinstock credits the campaign with helping the band catch Disney’s eye. A spokeswoman for Disney Records declined to comment.
Of course, the Clique Girlz, thanks to their consisting of three young (or young-looking, anyway) ladies, probably won’t have the same sort of hold over most of its intended audience, but still: I’d be very afraid.