Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Marketing ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and Missing the Point

posted by Nell Minow

Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey to Italy, India, and Indonesia became a wildly popular book, endorsed by Oprah and beloved by book clubs. This week, the movie starring Julia Roberts opens in theaters, and fans will be able to see the story unfold in the actual locations.
They will also be able to buy many, many trinkets. Sandy Cohen of AP reports that an onslaught of “EPL” merchandise is about to be launched. We are used to the idea that movies for children will have tie-ins on products from snack food to sleeping bags, but this is the first “chick flick” to be turned into an infomercial.


Stores will be flooded with all things “Eat, Pray, Love.” Look for candles and moisturizing creams; jewelry, bookmarks and tote bags; a dedicated shop at Cost Plus World Markets featuring furniture, food and clothing inspired by the film; a branded digital reader pre-loaded with the book; a Republic of Tea blend; a line of designer clothing by Sue Wong; and a weekend special on HSN filled with products pegged to the movie, including prayer beads, scarves and hundreds of other items from the countries the story’s main character visits during her quest for self.

The book, of course, is about transcendence and spiritual values. Anyone who has read it knows that you don’t get satisfaction from cheesy tschotskes. The book is about authenticity, purpose, and meaning and anyone who thinks you can get that with a tote bag or face cream missed the point. Unless you can put in an order for James Franco or Javier Bardem, I recommend you skip it.

  • Lynn

    I, too, was amused/appalled by the EPL tie in at World Market. I had gone in to see if they had a miniature chair or something else which could serve as doll furniture. I found a small red wooden chest painted in the style of India, just the right size to function as a footstool for my larger dolls or as an ottoman for my small ones. I bought it because it was red, beautiful, and affordable, and not because it was tied to EPL. (Though I thoroughly enjoyed the book.)

  • Halle Eavelyn

    Please don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. EPL has sold 7M copies to date. That’s roughly only a third of New York City, and those numbers are world-wide. So while we can presume Liz Gilbert is $7M richer (plus the movie rights!) it’s still not a lot of people. On the other hand, more people than that will see the movie next weekend alone! For every rapacious marketer out there “just trying to sell you something” – there’s a chance that what you buy MAY bring you one tiny step closer to enlightenment. Full disclosure: My company, Spirit Quest Tours, have an Eat Pray & Love Bali tour we ran in May, which really did help many of the people on the tour. We are doing more in September and June. We based it on the book, NOT the film (we didn’t even know the rights had been sold when we got permission).
    But the folks who WROTE the movie – who found it before it became a world-wide phenomenon – knew what a game-changer that one story could be for a reader/viewer. So don’t miss this great movie just because Sony made some dumb deal with HSN (and yeah, a pastamaker probably won’t bring enlightenment, but what if it’s all you can afford towards your dream of visiting Italy?) Who knows? Perhaps seeing Bali, India, and Italy in all their glory onscreen will make you decide to “let yourself go” in your very own way.

  • Alicia

    Penelope Cruz might have something to say about that order for Javier Bardem, since they just got married a few weeks ago :-)

  • Vince

    The tabloids are at it again. It seems that Julia Roberts has become a Hindu (a result of visiting India perhaps?) and the Enquirer has a cover story about how that’s a bad thing. Why must the media do stories like that withhout taking the time to research what they’re writing about? It’s very annoying.

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