Unleash a few dozen creative brains on a gross or so of marshmallow Peeps, and what do you get?
Walking-dead Zompeeps. Justin Peeper. And, of course, a couple of Peep shows.
Such was the imaginative aftermath of Pimp Your Peep, a competition this week among employees of Akron marketing agency Hitchcock Fleming & Associates Inc. Their challenge: Create the best diorama using the neon-colored Easter confections.
It was mockery in marshmallow, satire with a sugar coating.
There was Peep-king duck, a pair of Peeps perched atop fried rice in a takeout carton. There was a Peeping Tom, leering through a window at a pair of Peeps on a couch. There were Peeps protecting themselves from a UFO invasion by wearing tiny tinfoil hats.
The competition started three or four years ago and has become an annual rite of spring at the agency. It’s a little like the Washington Post’s Peeps Diorama Contest, on a smaller but no less irreverent scale.
“One thing we like to do here is have fun,” said Jack DeLeo, HFA’s president and chief executive officer. “… We constantly look for ways to entertain ourselves and keep our creative juices flowing.”
About 40 of the agency’s 100 or so employees put their best Peeps forward for the competition, judged by popular vote.
Several of the entries were topical: Peep Francis, a marshmallow version of the new pontiff; Oscar Peep-torius, a somewhat politically incorrect likeness of the Olympic runner; and a pair of Peeps uniting in same-sex marriage — which, of course, assumes Peeps have genders. Some were mildly disturbing, notably a burrito from Chipeeple (that’s Chipotle in Peep-speak) stuffed with unsuspecting chicks, and a gathering of cannibalistic purple bunnies roasting one of their own on a spit. Purple Peep eaters, apparently.
Akron events inspired a couple of the entries. In one, Peeps raced silver-painted hot dog buns in the SoaPeep Derby.
In another, a Peep broke the tape in the Akron Peepsathon while the Goodyear blimp hovered overhead, the Art Deco form of the Canal Square building rising in the background.
A few of the creations were surprisingly artistic. One handicrafter combined pieces of Peeps into a believable rhinoceros. Another filled a tiny red-and-white striped box with cut-up yellow Peeps, which looked remarkably like popcorn.
And as you might expect, plays on words were abundant. Give Peeps a chance, one entry urged. A pair of green chicks portrayed two Peeps in a pod. Another bunny played Peep-a-boo.
The winner of the competition was Carrie Hall, a senior project manager who captured her worst work-related nightmare in a miniature scene she titled Peep Project Manager Meltdown.
In it, a tiny cardboard desk was strewn with itty-bitty projects and Post-it Notes marked “urgent.”
Task forms — a familiar type of paperwork at the agency — were scattered on the floor, and an error message showed on the screen of a minuscule cardboard computer.
In the midst of the chaos lay a Peep, partly melted into a distorted shape. It was purple, which Hall’s co-workers instantly recognized as her favorite color of clothing.
The computer trouble, she explained, had put her bunny-shaped alter ego over the edge. “It happens,” she said.
What really won over the colleagues who voted for her creation were the teeny, exact replicas of projects and task forms she created by turning the computer documents into JPEG photo files and shrinking them.
“I may not be an artist,” she said, “but I have PowerPoint skills.”
Hall was awarded a $10 gift card to Subway by Jeff Staples, the agency’s computer graphics manager and the emcee for the event.
And with that, the Peeple had spoken.
Mary Beth Breckenridge can be reached at 330-996-3756 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also become a fan on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/mbbreck, follow her on Twitter @MBBreckenridge and read her blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/mary-beth.