I’m no fan of Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla, but man, I wanted to be. I saw it way late, and hoped that its parade of awful reviews were only written by people who’d either “missed the point” or were inherently joyless.
Nah. It really was terrible.
But that doesn’t damper my memories of its incredible marketing campaign. No matter what you thought of the film, the lead up to it was a blast. It all started with this teaser:
Yeah, the sight of Zilla’s foot crushing a tyrannosaur skeleton loses something once you’ve seen the movie, but at the time, this was super effective stuff. I was going to say “like Krazy Glue,” but A) that’s lame and B) I wrote “effective,” not “adhesive.”
And so this edition of Deadsites is off to a rocky start.
It wasn’t just trailers and TV spots, either. Godzilla was everywhere. Remember the Taco Bell promotions? The fruit snacks? The “HIS HEAD IS AS BIG AS THIS SIGN” billboards? Weirdly enough, the best things about that movie had nothing to do with it.
Which brings me to today’s Deadsite!
Back in ’98, the ice cream giants at Edy’s teamed with those who represented Godzilla to create something strange, beautiful and rhyming.
It was called…
There’s a screenshot of Edy’s website from 1998. (God, look at the bottom. I miss menus like that. They look so wholesome. They make me want yarn and rocking chairs.)
Aside from Edy’s usual ice cream things, an ominous button warned us about a “monster taste ahead.” It should be easy to spot, since I added that enormous red arrow. Because Godzilla’s appearance was under major wraps before the movie debuted, Edy’s was only allowed to show its eye.
Let’s poke it!
The button led us to a mini-site, where we learned all about “Godzilla Vanilla” — a vanilla/fudge concoction with oodles of Godzilla-shaped chocolate candies mixed in!
These pages were published before the movie was in theaters, and Edy’s excitement was plain to see. Sure, it was the writer’s job to make this sound like a big deal, but Edy’s was clearly proud of those Godzilla-shaped candies. Why wouldn’t they be? The whole world was waiting to see what this “new” Godzilla looked like, but by way of their exclusively commissioned candy molds, the folks at Edy’s already knew!
By now you must wondering why I picked a promotional page for Godzilla ice cream for the fourth edition of Deadsites. Up above is the reason. I’ve been sitting on this empty tub for months, waiting for the right moment to write about it.
Yep, I have an actual container of “Godzilla Vanilla” ice cream.
Zilla is clearly shown on the side, which explains why the ice cream wasn’t allowed in freezers until 5/20/1998. (The day of the film’s release.) Remember, the ad campaign was impossibly secretive. A tie-in with Edy’s was good for awareness, but not at the expense of wasting the studio’s biggest weapon: If you wanted to know what Godzilla looked like, you had to see the movie.
When you think about it, promotions like these are mindboggling. Can you imagine how many contracts it took for the studio to let Edy’s see Godzilla? I imagine that blood oaths were involved. Or something funnier and less cliche.
There’s a graphical representation of the Godzilla-shaped candies. The ones Edy’s was so excited about.
And uh… they didn’t look much like the ’98 version of Godzilla at all.
Some details would naturally be lost in the conversion to tiny chocolate, but the pose, shape and proportions are all completely off. I wouldn’t normally mind, but Edy’s made such a big deal about their commissioned candy molds. Don’t brag if you can’t back it up, guys.
No photos of the actual ice cream still exist, so there’s my stunning recreation.
I spent three whole minutes on it.
No, I cannot explain why portions of it look like cottage cheese. It’s not something I care to ponder.
One note: I know that “Godzilla Vanilla” included fudge, but I have no idea if Edy’s tinted it green. I mean, they obviously should’ve, but I feel like they would’ve mentioned that if they had.
And yeah, I suppose I’m the only person who would care if ice cream from 1998 was green or white. Sometimes it amazes me that I have any readers at all. Even if it’s only pity, I still appreciate it. This is a lonely way of life.
There was also a contest form to win a “year’s supply of Edy’s.” Of course, this left me incredibly curious about what Edy’s considered a year’s supply of ice cream.
The official rules closed the case. If you were the grand prize winner, you got 52 gift certificates for one-gallon ice cream containers. So, a gallon a week, for one full year. That’s enough ice cream for any reasonable person, but it seems a bit skimpy for a big time movie contest.
If I won something like this, I wouldn’t want to barely scrape by. I’d want more ice cream than I knew what to do with. I’d want to invite strangers into my house to save me from drowning in it.
Oh, and you’ve probably noticed that all of these promo pages link to the official Godzilla website. That page could be ten different editions of Deadsites in itself, but I wanted to at least show you this:
From the 1998 version of Godzilla’s official site, this was the image that put Zilla’s mug out there for the very first (sanctioned) time.
They made such a huge show of it. You had to endure a three-second countdown before the image was revealed, but since there were five-second gaps between each “number page,” it was more like an eighteen-second wait. I didn’t count, but it sure felt like eighteen seconds.
That screenshot is actual size, too. 1998, baby! Could you imagine the big mystery monster from a bazillion dollar movie being officially revealed with a five-inch GIF today?
Anyway, to reiterate:
I own an empty tub of “Godzilla Vanilla” ice cream.