If you’ve seen the Filet-O-Fish commercial McDonald’s airs for Lent, then you’re familiar with “Frankie the Fish” and his infectious jingle. Not being one to miss an opportunity to capitalize on kitschy sentimentality, McDonald’s has released a “Frankie the Fish” novelty frame that was obviously inspired by pop culture sensation, Big Mouth Billy Bass. We’ve seen fictional products from shows be developed into real products; (ex: Tru Blood) Rob Walker calls this “imaginary brands” and Brandweek has described the process as “reverse product placement.” Based on McDonald’s bringing the tacky decoration to market, “Frankie the Fish” garners as much if not more attention to than the menu item being advertised.
I assume that the reverse product placement of the Frankie frame is the result of constant television airings and Internet hype. I imagine somebody purchasing the frame to be ironic or for a cheap laugh. Whatever the reason, the irony and humor of “Frankie the Fish” is fleeting and can probably only be appreciated during Lent, when the ads air frequently. Coca-Cola introduced the red and white branded Santa Claus, whose image is a cultural signifier of Christmas, so perhaps “Frankie the Fish” is the McDonald’s way of creating a holiday mascot with a catchy jingle and all.