The newest CGI superhuman to hit American movie screens this fall isn't part of the DC or Marvel universes; he doesn't struggle with the ethical challenges of his powers; he's never fought a prominent villain. But he and his trusty sidekick Sprout do have a very important mission: convincing kids to eat their vegetables.
The Green Giant who first appeared in ads for Minnesota Valley Canning Co. in 1928 was a far cry from the animated icon we've grown to know in recent decades. It wasn't until a young Leo Burnett made him Jolly and put him on TV in the '50s and '60s that he became one of the 20th century's most recognizable brand icons.
You may be forgiven for thinking the Giant had retired as he hasn't appeared on TV screens in recent years. But a new campaign launched this month by Deutsch will explain where he's been—and why he picked now as an ideal time to make his comeback.
This teaser-style launch film, which will (appropriately) air in movie theaters around the country, doesn't include any shots of the Giant himself. But it leaves no doubt that he is back and bigger than ever.
General Mills sold Green Giant to B&G Foods in late 2015, and the new parent company hired Deutsch to relaunch the brand and its leafy icon in January 2016. The ultimate goal is to make him just as relevant as he was in his 1978 heyday, when the city of Blue Earth, Minn., built a 55-foot fiberglass tribute reminiscent of that state's famous Paul Bunyan statue.
"He's been off the air for several years," says Deutsch chief creative officer Dan Kelleher, who is leading the campaign, "but for us this was a great opportunity to bring him back and give the Giant and his campaign a more modern approach. [They're] bringing him back to reinvigorate the brand, but also as a way to introduce some new innovations in frozen vegetables."
The Giant's backstory will eventually reveal itself as the campaign evolves. Kelleher tells Adweek, "He's back to help you swap in these new vegetables as healthy alternatives, and you'll also be learning where he was and what he's been doing all this time."
A full, multiplatform campaign will follow this teaser in the months to come with Sprout, who scored all the lines beyond "Ho Ho Ho" in the old ads, reprising his role as the Giant's acting spokesperson. "In addition to the teaser, we will launch an Instagram campaign called 'Giant Road Trip,'" says Kelleher. "There will be photos from the Giant's point of view and from Sprout's point of view."
Kelleher isn't ready to reveal what the Giant will look like when audiences get their first glimpse of him in the (virtual) flesh, but he does say that the agency and its production partners are working on a treatment and talking to an A-list director after teaming with music video veteran Patrick Daughters (Adele, Feist, Beck) for the teaser spot.
"Today when you walk down the frozen vegetable aisle, nothing really stands out," Kelleher says. "We are reminding people that he is The Green Giant: You grew up with him, you loved him and now he's back."
Agency: Deutsch (New York office)
Title: "The Giant Awakens"
Client: Green Giant/ B&G Foods Inc.
VP, General Manager: Jordan Greenberg
Marketing Director: Steve Finnie
Senior Brand Manager: Jodi Mordekai
Associate Brand Manager: Diana Ark
Chief Creative Officer, North America: Pete Favat
Chief Creative Officer: Dan Kelleher
Executive Creative Director: Matt McKay
Creative Directors: James Cowie, Rich Kolopeaua
Copywriter: Fanny Josefsson
Director of Integrated Production: Joe Calabrese
Executive Producer: Andrea Curtin
Senior Project Manager: Michelle Ziff
Group Account Director: Jayme Maultasch
Account Director: Erin Metcalf
Account Executive: Ramona Luo
Production Company: Gorgeous – West Hollywood, CA
Director: Patrick Daughters
Executive Producer: Maddi Carlton
Line Producer: Mala Vasan
Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors – New York, NY
Editor: Adam Pertofsky
Assistant Editor: Marjorie Sacks
Telecine: MPC – London, U.K.
Colorist: Jean-Clement Soret
Visual effects company: The Mill – New York, NY
Music/licensed music tracks: Woodwork Music – London, U.K.
Audio post company: Heard City – New York, NY
Sound designer/mixer: Phil Heard
End tag animation/graphics company: The Mill – NY
Shoot location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada