Unpacking the “Berries and Cream” Phenomenon

Do you remember the last time an ad got stuck in your head? 

That’s precisely what happened with the iconic “Berries and Cream” commercial from Starburst. Camden Bernatz, host of Brands & Campaigns, discussed the behind-the-scenes of this unforgettable campaign and its success in his podcast episodes with Winslow Dennis, senior producer over the commercial, and Madeline Trenkle, an Art Director at EKR.

A Melodic Earworm That Resonates

The words “berries” and “cream” trigger an instant mental playback of the catchy jingle from the iconic Starburst commercial. It’s a testament to the power of marketing that transcends traditional strategies. Winslow revealed that the magic of the “Berries and Cream” commercial lay in its simplicity.

Rather than relying on flashy visuals or celebrity endorsements, the ad’s brilliance stemmed from the sheer repetition of the phrase “berries and cream.” The creative minds behind this masterpiece pushed the boundaries of humor and engagement, ensuring that the product’s name became ingrained in our memory.

From pitch to casting, the commercial was tailored to entertain the audience. No iconic commercial is complete without the perfect protagonist, and in this case, it was the endearing Little Lad. Played by the talented Jack Ferver, Little Lad’s classic velvety pantsuit jumpsuit became an instant favorite, captivating audiences with his whimsical performance.

Crafting the Path to Creative Success

As fate would have it, a snowstorm in Los Angeles on the day of the shoot prevented the clients from attending — an unexpected twist that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. This absence allowed the creative team to stay true to their original vision without interference, resulting in a pure creative commercial.

During the editing process, there was one particular element that sparked debate — the kick. The client wasn’t fond of it, but director Randy Coleman loved the improvisation by Jack Ferver and shared the version with the kick. This detail might have been a point of contention had the client been on set, but it ultimately contributed to the commercial’s charm and popularity.

Although it was a bit more of a unique approach, the creators were willing to take a risk. Camden and Madeline discussed how essential it is to consider the brand’s tone when incorporating shock value. Not every brand can pull off a quirky or jarring ad. The brand’s voice must align with the advertising approach to avoid dissonance with the audience’s expectations. As wacky as it was, this concept still managed to fit with the Starburst brand and was able to positively engage with their audience.

The Legacy Continues: A Cultural Phenomenon

Not only did the commercial gain popularity in 2007, but also surged again in 2021 as Little Lad trends spread across social media platforms. Camden mentioned, “It really was ahead of its time…if you had something like that come out today, it would be talked about and recognized more.”

Despite its widespread popularity, the Berries and Cream Starburst commercial never received any industry awards. However, its impact on popular culture was undeniable. The commercial’s enduring legacy serves as a reminder of the unpredictable nature of virality and the power of creativity in marketing.

For those eager to learn more about this iconic commercial and other clever marketing strategies, be sure to tune in to the Brands & Campaigns podcast.

And if you need marketing assistance to bring your creative visions to life, don’t hesitate to contact EKR.

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