I’ve been rewatching Code Geass this past week or so, as well as writing a bit about it and starting up a small fan site. I’m having a great deal of fun thinking about the series and talking it over with Gabihime, but one item keeps coming up, and I believe that it is time to address it. Rather than engage in further circumlocution, I’ll just come right out with it:
However much Pizza Hut paid for product placement in Code Geass, it was a steal.
Seriously, I don’t care if they paid ¥70,000,000 per episode. Code Geass is without question one of the best anime series of the last decade; beyond the anime it also includes countless drama cds, manga, light novels, art books, and merchandise. To be honest though, that is hardly the most important part.
When was the last time you did a search for C.C. images on Pixiv, Danbooru, or DeviantArt? What’s there?
I’d conservatively estimate that up to fifteen percent of all fanart of C.C. features pizza. If you don’t count the ones where she’s also not wearing any clothes to speak of it probably spikes to over twenty percent. The series is incredibly popular; even now Internet artists continue to create new fanart. Once the fabled third season is released, renewed interest will mean a new tide of artwork and likely some of that will feature the cast of the new anime eating Pizza Hut pizza, even if they’re not involved in sponsorship.
Let’s take a step back and consider that idea. Talented individuals online will draw free advertisements for Pizza Hut, perhaps even for newer series which lack the sponsorship.
That’s an amazing achievement. Suppose that Code Geass is one day as well-established a meta-series as, for example, Gundam is now. Imagine what it would be like if every time you thought of Char, you thought of pizza.
Apart from the obvious comments about my pizza delivery being three times faster than a regular pizza delivery, I would be spending about six times as much money on pizza, and that would only increase as time went on. Eventually every aspect of Gundam would make me think of pizza. Model kits? Pizza. Random Zaku heads in The World God Only Knows? Pizza. Kira screaming at Athrun? Pizza.
That’s what it is like with Code Geass now. When I check out my awesome Lancelot Albion model, I think of Suzaku taking out a bunch of the Knights of Round, sure.
But then I think about how much I want a pizza.
When I become frustrated and wish I could just order people to obey me immediately, I think of Lelouch being really clever and hard core. And then I think about ordering some pizza.
When I look at artwork of Kallen and C.C. in bunny girl outfits, I think about how sexy they look, and then I think about eating some pizza. In fact, sometimes they take care of that for me more directly when the artist just shows them eating pizza. Every time I think of C.C., I think about pizza. She’s a major character as well as being immortal, so I’d say that it is basically impossible for me to think about Code Geass for more than sixty seconds without having pizza on the brain.
By making pizza a comedic element of C.C.’s character, they have made it totally inextricable from the rest of her personality. Instead of being an intrusion, it’s a reliably amusing part of the show. Current fans regard it fondly, and new ones always have a reaction of some kind.
So it gets them, too.
I have a lot of faith in Sunrise. Code Geass is a high-quality franchise and I believe that they can and will continue to expand the property. I will be watching those series and buying their merchandise the entire time, and hopefully in fifteen years I will be able to look back on a number of Code Geass series in addition to the original two seasons.
If that happens, and if Code Geass continues to be of interest to the anime-watching public as Gundam and Macross have, I have no doubt that Pizza Hut will never have cause to regret their investment. Hell, some industry group ought to give them a medal for excellence in advertising, because I can’t even look at a fan site without considering pizza for dinner.
The only possible issue with this advertising plan could be the dilution of association…