When TikTok Digs Into Your Cultural Archives

By Henley Worthen · September 28, 2021

Staying on the pulse of the zany, karaoke-crazed TikTok generation may seem virtually impossible. Surely, brands and media companies have found themselves in a never-ending game of cat-and-mouse keeping up with tidal wave trends that come as fast as they go. 

If you or anyone in your life has TikTok, you’ve likely heard some version of the mind-numbing ad jingle that goes “berries and cream, berries and cream, I’m a little lad that loves berries and cream!”. 

In 2007, Starburst ran a delightful campaign where a little lad promoted their new berries and cream flavor candy. Fourteen years later, he’s back. 

What can your company learn from berries and cream?

  1. How to save time and money on ad ideation + creation
  2. How to start a viral TikTok trend
  3. How to build engagement with today’s creator culture

Let’s dive in.

The Comeback Berries and Cream Kid

The 00’s ad era was notorious for targeting a youth audience through bizarre but creative content strategies. How could anyone forget the Quiznos singing rats or the Skittles sheep boys? It’s bittersweet to look back on how simple it was then when there weren’t so many streaming platforms and the most powerful ‘influencers’ were Mommy-Bloggers.

However, we believe yesterday’s oddvertising strategies are a perfect fit for today’s jingle-loving creator culture.

The Starburst Berries and Cream lad is no exception to obscure advertising tactics. TikTok fans have picked up the 14-year-old tune and made it their own by mixing it into songs from Flo Rida’s “Low” to Cardi B’s “WAP”. 

At the time of publishing, there have been +215K TikTok videos created with one rendition of the Berries and Cream soundtrack.

So how did it get reinjected into today’s viral world?

Podcaster and Comedian Justin McElroy posted the soundtrack in January of 2021, but for months it only circulated in what users call DeepTok – a subgroup of edgier humor on TikTok that contrasts the popular dance videos and mainstream content.

Finally, in August, it was picked up into the mainstream of TikTok where users have had a field day creating their own renditions.


I already y’all gonna say I look like I like berries and cream

♬ original sound – Justin McElroy

Starburst has also enjoyed the organic resurgence of this little lad, with +65.5k engagements and 1 million views on berries and cream Youtube content. Mashable reported 300 million views on TikTok videos hashtagged #berriesandcream.

We’ve also noticed Starburst engaging with the phenomenon on Twitter. No surprise that Sour Patch Kids and other candy companies are eager to get a piece of the pie.

Did Starbursts plan this resurgence? Nope. But Gerry Graf, executive creative director of the ad told AdWeek “this one doesn’t surprise me.” In fact, the original reaction to the commercial was so wild that it prompted them to make a dance-along version in 2007. Was this the 1st TikTok ever? 

Other brands have used this tactic successfully too. Got Milk? has recreated their longstanding campaign for TikTok. Brands like Old Spice could ignite a cascade of hilarious videos by resurging their “The Man your Man Could Be” ad from 2010. Always could repurpose their “Like a Girl” campaign from 2014 to celebrate today’s youth. 

Today, we must ask: how can old ad campaigns be evolved to encourage today’s younger generation of creators to engage with them?

Insights to Actions 

Keep Tabs on Today

This is a perfect example of how the TikTok generation can pull from the cultural archives and refresh something a brand has long packed away. As social video is a true mirror to culture, advertisers need to keep tabs on how consumers are engaging with their content. The Tubular Intelligence platform can identify when old videos are resurfacing and racking up new views. The earlier you know about what people are watching, the faster you can act.

Control Your Narrative

What did people have a big response to when it originally aired? Odds are, today’s young generation will make it their own. Dive into your old, outdated archives; look for the content you so desperately tried to forget. Consider soundtracks, slogans, filters, and more. Media companies & creators can scour archives for bloopers and funny moments aired in the past. There are endless ways to revamp old content to fit new social media platforms.

Identifying influencers who have access to your target audience and the ability to create viral content is key to resurging old campaign ideas. The Tubular Intelligence platform and Audience Ratings can find influencers that have direct access to your audience and the capacity to take your old content and turn it into something modern, relevant, and viral.

Be ahead of the curve in
the age of video.