Starburst spokescontradictions argue with undead on city buses

By Todd Wasserman on Mon Aug 16 2010

Why does every candy commercial these days have to be an exercise in absurdity? Is it just too boring to say "Mmm, this tastes good"? The latest confectionery ad to get the Samuel Beckett/Luis Buñuel/Monty Python treatment is this one from Starburst, which plays off the fact that the candy is juicy yet solid to riff about other seeming paradoxes. The Scotch-Korean father and son (whose contradictory nature is up for debate) reappear in this latest TBWA\Chiat\Day ad to converse with the living dead. (Now there's a real contradiction.) The living dead guy is, of course, mordant and deadpan but also quite rude. "You're boring me to death, and I'm already dead," he says. "You're boring me back to death." The living dead, in short, is kind of a dick. All the more reason to eat your vegetables and avoid candy like Starburst.

Skittles, Comedy Central team up for some online time-wasters

Posted on Mon Jun 14 2010


Skittles wants you to "play the rainbow." The Wrigley candy has teamed up with Comedy Central to launch a gaming arcade on One is a "Snood-like puzzle" called Skittles Pop in which you shoot similar-colored Skittles into a cloud of candies to make them "pop." (Line them up incorrectly, or have poor aiming skills, and the sky of Skittles slowly builds up to suffocate you.) The arcade consists of six "fun games for bored people," including "Important Things with Demetri Martin" and "Michael & Michael Have Issues." There will also be an "addictive soccer game" launching soon, Comedy Central tells us. Said Rebecca Keszkowski, vp of digital integrated marketing at MTV Networks' Entertainment Group: "We developed this concept to connect [the] humor of Comedy Central digital with Skittles' sensibilities. We wanted to create an interactive experience for fans to virtually taste the rainbow of Skittles and engage with [its] brand and brand message."

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Butterfingers now insured against people laying fingers on them

Posted on Mon Apr 5 2010

There are lots of things one can insure: a false nose, six-pack abs, celebrity boobs, you get the picture. Add to that: Nestlé's Butterfinger candy bar. Last week, the world's largest food company insured its "crispety, crunchety peanut butter" candy brand through global insurance market Lloyd's of London. (The policy is worth $1 million.) The move was meant to underscore Nestlé's seriousness behind its brand tagline: "Nobody's gonna lay a finger on my Butterfinger!" In true insurance spirit, Nestlé that same day (April Fool's, but "this is no joke," the brand insists) also kicked off an ad campaign to get the word out: Through April 14, consumers can file an online claim if someone indeed touches their Butterfinger. Nestlé will mail out a coupon for one free Butterfinger bar to the first 100,000 consumers. (It's a no-questions-asked policy.) Geez. If only it were really that way with insurance!

—Posted by Elaine Wong

We'll happily try chocolate samples … but in boxes, not baggies

Posted on Tue Mar 30 2010


So, we get back from Texas (we were at the IRI CPG Summit—did you follow us on Twitter?) and there's this bulky package on our desk. We open it, and lo and behold, there are itty-bitty, bite-sized pieces of chocolate and cocoa powder in Ziploc bags. Color-coded, too. Yikes! Reminds us of the time we served on the jury of a major Philadelphia narcotics bust. The National Confectioners Association's Chocolate Council apparently sent us these chocolates, and they're part of an educational, behind-the-scenes look at chocolate making. (The press kit even comes with an instructional CD, complete with two videos by master chocolatier Jacques Torres.) The white chocolate, for instance, is made of "a blend of cocoa butter, milk, sugar and flavor. No chocolate solids are present, which explains the lack of brown color," the Chocolate Deconstructed Tasting Guide says. Gotta give 'em props—the package caught our eye. But even our senior researcher, Jim English, who loves all things sweet, took a pass on it. Stuff that comes in little baggies is a tad scary.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Nestlé's Wonka chocolate gets even more scrumdiddlyumptious

Posted on Mon Mar 1 2010


Argh! BrandFreak gave up chocolate for Lent. (OK, we supposedly gave up chocolate for Lent, which is what we've been telling ourselves every year since our mother enrolled us in Catholic school at age 7.) Tempting us to break the fast this year is none other than Nestlé's Wonka Exceptionals. For those of you who associate Wonka with children's candies, the collection just got a whole lot "scrumdiddlyumptious," which indeed happens to be the name of the new candy bar we're drooling over. Nestlé says it's the first premium chocolate line for the entire Wonka brand, which includes delectables like the Wonka Chocolate Waterfall Bar and the Wonka Domed Dark Chocolate Bar. What makes it so darn delicious, and irresistible, is the use of ingredients like "scrumptious toffee pieces," "creamy white chocolate swirled in milk chocolate" and "rich, velvety dark chocolate topped with smooth milk chocolate drops." (Excuse us while we wipe the saliva off the keyboard.) BrandFreak had the pleasure of speaking with Janet the Planet (pictured above), the innovation manager behind the Wonka Experience. As we wrote in our Brandweek Q&A this week, Janet the Planet is her legal name. (She won't tell us what it was before she changed it 12 years ago.) Even better, her husband's name is Richie Rescue, or at least, that's what he's in the process of changing it to. Of course, this only happens when you're talking with the folks at Wonka.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Olympians fight over what makes Nestle Crunch bars taste good

Posted on Tue Jan 5 2010

Nestlé's latest campaign for its Crunch bar features an Olympic gymnast jumping over an oncoming bobsled (OK, there was video editing, according to some reports) and a gold-medal speedskater skating down a luge track. Just what the heck does a candy bar brand have to do with daring sports feats? The confectionary maker is using the videos to promote the launch of its new Crunch bar. Apolo Ohno and Shawn Johnson, the athletes featured in the spots, are leading the debate over chocolate versus crunch (i.e., which of the bar's two ingredients make the new Crunch taste better?). Ohno is representing Team Chocolate, while those who like crispies are rooting for Johnson. Consumers can play a trivia game at the Nestlé Crunch Facebook page to earn points for their respective team, and there's also a daily giveaway prize of (yes, you guessed it) 1,000 free Nestlé Crunch bars. Munch munch.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

At Kit Kat, discontinued products get proper mourning and burial

Posted on Tue Oct 20 2009

It's not unusual for manufacturers to phase out products. Limited-edition varieties launch all the time, and disappear just as fast. But judging by this video, at Kit Kat, they take the phasing out of products very seriously. It opens as melancholy factory workers gather at a conveyor belt, removing their hard hats as they would during a funeral procession. As Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" plays in the background, a lone Kit Kat Peanut Butter bar appears on the belt, as the workers wave goodbye and hug each other crying. As the bar is laid to rest on a crate decorated with flowers, a new candy bar enters the scene: the Kit Kat Chunky Caramel. The video is amusing, if a little monotonous, and timely now that Halloween is approaching, with the season's many limited-edition candy introductions.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

Peeps show gets a little sweeter with chocolate-covered chicks

Posted on Tue Oct 6 2009


Before rapper Nas turned it into an affectionate street-slang term for close friends and family, the word peeps—or rather, Peeps, with a capital "p"—referred to the iconic Easter-basket stuffer that roosted in the lush green, cellophane grass. They're still around, of course. And if we're going to show these peeps some respect, their full name is Marshmallow Peeps. Quite possibly the most confounding packaged food outside of Twinkies, Marshmallow Peeps have been made by the Just Born Candy Co. of Bethlehem, Pa., since 1953. Even if you don't care for the taste of these gritty, spongy, chick-shaped confections, they're worth studying if you're a brand manager. Over the course of nearly six decades, they've have tottered their way to legendary status without the help of celebrity spokesmen, glossy ads or pricey TV spots. By the time of their 50th anniversary in 2003, some 1.2 billion Peeps were being consumed worldwide annually. As marketers, however, the Just Born people were not just born yesterday. This Easter, the Peeps coop will get a little bigger with the addition of Chocolate Covered Peeps (both the milk and dark varieties). The cocoa chicks will "please loyal fans and entice newcomers," the company promises. Not all Peep fans will chirp about this move, however. After all, the sugar-grit feel on your tongue is an essential part of Peepdom. But gauging consumer reaction will be easy, at least. Peeps have inspired more than 155 Web sites and groups on every social-media outlet. Sorta redefines Twitter, doesn't it?

—Posted by Robert Klara

Jimmy Fallon, as Robert Pattinson, is bothered by Snickers ads

Posted on Wed Sep 9 2009

He gets stalked by the paparazzi, attacked by hormonal teenage fans and dragged through the tabloids. But you know what really bugs Robert Pattinson? Snickers ads! Well, it's actually Jimmy Fallon channeling the Twilight heartthrob on his NBC talk show in a series of short videos he calls "Robert Is Bothered." Fallon, who has obviously noticed that Pattinson broods even when he's not playing conflicted-vampire-in-love Edward Cullen, rags on Discovery Channel's Shark Week and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in the guise of the now-world-famous young Brit. In the video here, he unleashes some of the best vitriol on the "Snacklish" campaign for Snickers, which includes words like "Hungerectomy," "Nougetaboutit" and "Peanutopolis." Fallon/Pattinson's favorite word in Snacklish? "Bothered!" Points awarded for the videos' setting, reminiscent of a pivotal scene in the Twilight film, Fallon's preening and posing, and the creative use of a blow-up doll (just watch). It's a gag that has a shorter shelf life than a candy bar, but it'll be fun while it lasts.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Cadbury sides with women, wishes men were made of chocolate

Posted on Tue Aug 4 2009

Attention, frustrated ladies: Chocolate is still more satisfying than men. At least, that's what Cadbury wants to tell you. In this spot from Argentina (by Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi), a man apologizes to his better half for making a number of cliché guy errors, like not sharing his feelings. As he tells her she's right and gives her a present, a bar of chocolate at the side of the screen grows, Tetris style. Then the woman opens her gift to find a video game controller. She is obviously not pleased, and the tower of chocolate goes back to zero. "A man will never be as good as a whole Cadbury," says the copy. While these sorts of male stereotypes probably got started for a reason, the type of woman who would appreciate this ad has likely already discovered chocolate as a healthy (or not) alternative.

—Posted by Elana Glowatz



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