April 20 -- marijuana's unofficial holiday -- is almost here. So don't be surprised if pot references start spreading through social media like, well, a weed -- including from marketers. After all, with the marijuana legalization movement growing, pot jokes have become fairly safe terrain for brands looking to be seen as hip.
Consider Ben & Jerry's, which on Monday will debut a new product in its ice cream shops called a "Brrr-ito," which is an ice cream burrito. To support the launch, the brand is rolling out a digital campaign that includes a video spoofing Apple's famous"1984" ad. The spot (above) includes a smoke-filled scene as a voice-over declares that on April 20 "you'll see why 4-20 will be exactly like 4-20." The brand has also made T-shirts that ice cream shop workers will wear that promote the burrito with the slogan "This is how we roll."
"What are two better snack-munchy type foods than ice cream and a burrito?" said David Horowitz, creative director for Mekanism, which is behind the video. And "4-20 is a day when people are maybe thinking about munchies a little bit more." The Apple spoof, he said, was a nod to another case of a product and date (1984) being "perfectly married together," he said.
Alison Gilbert, senior brand manager of global scoop shops for Ben & Jerry's, was a little more coy, suggesting that the smoke in the ad was indicative of a freezer opening. Asked more broadly about the pot reference in the ad, she said, "it could be construed that way."
"We have a little bit of fun in being tongue-in-cheek and are known to be slightly irreverent," she added.
Indeed, Ben & Jerry's might even have a pot flavored ice cream up its sleeve. As USA Today noted earlier this year, founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield suggested during an interview on HuffPost Live in February that "they'd consider making a 'cannabis edibles flavor' in places where it's legal."
For those looking to wash down their ice cream, PepsiCo's Mt Dew is re-introducing its Baja Blast lineup on April 20, although the company insisted the 4-20 launch date was a coincidence.