Back in the mid-2000s, the previously boring candy category became one of the ad world’s most exciting when commercials for Mars Wrigley brands Starburst and Skittles captured mainstream attention with their bizarre, off-kilter comedy. One such ad for Starburst featured a strange character named Little Lad, a bewigged, bestockinged man-boy wearing pedal pushers and a maniacal smile who performed an awkward jig involving clapping and skipping from side to side. “Berries and Cream, Berries and Cream I’m a little lad who loves Berries and Cream!” he sang.
Over the last couple of months, the TikTok-verse resurrected the classic character for a whole new generation of fans, and Little Lad became arguably more popular than ever — with the #berriesandcream hashtag alone garnering nearly 2 billion views. The original actor, Jack Ferver, was also inspired to get in character once again on his own TikTok account.
And now, the brand originally behind Little Lad has returned to back him officially. In late September, Starburst came out with a Little Lad Halloween costume and today, Little Lad appears in a new TikTok video dancing a whole new candy dance.
In a post that went up today, Little Lad appears with a pack of Starburst, changing outfits multiple times as he performs a series of new moves inspired by decades past.
“Won’t you dance with me?” he asks. “Perhaps if enough of us do this dance together, Starburst will bring back Berries and Cream forever!”
Little Lad was born at Omnicom’s TBWA/Chiat/Day New York, under the leadership of Gerry Graf who had been chief creative officer at the time (now co-founder of Slap Global), Scott Vitrone (now CCO at Fig), veteran creative leader Ian Reichenthal and freelance creative director Brandon Davis. Randy Krallman of Smuggler directed the ads promoting the Berries and Cream flavor, which was available for a limited run.
At the time, the team had also created a dance tutorial for the campaign, in the hopes that others would continue the fun on YouTube.
Omnicom's DDB Chicago was behind the latest push. According to Colin Selikow, the agency's executive creative director, it was only a matter of time before Starburst would reunite with Little Lad. “As soon as we noticed the trend was taking off on TikTok back in September, we knew we had to act on it as the brand behind the original spot,” he said.
On introducing a new dance into the mix, “we wanted to lean into other TikTok trends and reinvent it through the decades, with wardrobe changes,” Selikow said.
DDB worked with a music house and Ferver to reinvent the original tune with nods to different periods, including opera from the 1500s to ‘80s synth-pop to current musical trends.
“The hope is that fans get involved and post their own ‘Berries and Cream’ through the decades using our new track. If enough people do it, Starburst will bring back the Berries and Cream flavor,” Selikow added.
“This is an unexpected example of capturing and amplifying the trends while being timely with the Halloween season,” said DDB Gobal Mars Client Lead Said Varsha Kaura. “We hope to continue creating content that becomes mainstream and keeps Starburst firmly in the hearts of all.”
Previously, TikTok itself had attempted to reignite classic ads on its own, including a spot for Skittles, with a campaign asking creators to think up their own remakes, but this time, it's a brand taking culture's lead on where to go next.