In the 1980’s Bill Cosby jiggled around on television to promote Jell-O’s watermelon flavored geletin. Watching this commercial is slightly uncomfortable and you have to wonder what the hell he thought when filming this piece!
With a catchy song the advert could be seen as a racist piece with Cosby “Shuckin’ and jivin'”. However maybe it wasn’t so clear as that.
In isolation, if Cosby was brought in only for this skit then you’d be able to say it was a bad move. However Cosby was the voice of Jell-O since the mid 70s and was so for the next 30 years. He did a lot for the brand and I guess this was just part of the whole range.
To turn things around, Jell-O hired Dana Gioia to stop the decline. The marketing team revisited the Jell-O recipes published in past cookbooks and rediscovered Jigglers, although the original recipe did not use that name. Jigglers are Jell-O snacks molded into fun shapes and eaten as finger food. Jell-O launched a massive marketing campaign, notably featuring Bill Cosby as spokesman. The campaign was a huge success, causing a significant gain.
Cosby became the company’s pudding spokesperson in 1974, and continued as the voice of Jell-O for almost thirty years. Over his tenure as the mouthpiece for the company, he would help introduce new products such as frozen Jell-O Pops (in gelatin and pudding varieties); the new Sugar-Free Jell-O, which replaced D-Zerta in 1984 and was sweetened with NutraSweet; Jell-O Jigglers concentrated gummi snacks; and Sparkling Jell-O, a carbonated version of the dessert touted as the “Champagne of Jell-O.” In 2010, Cosby returned as Jell-O spokesperson in an on-line web series called “OBKB.”
Still, should he have done this advertisement? Would love to have your thoughts?
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