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Advertising/PR Collide in Little Baby’s Ice Cream Ad Nightmare
By: Kimberly Shrack
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As PR pros, we tend to be very sensitive when people get our profession confused with advertising (admit it, you’ve had the “paid promotions vs. earned promotions” conversation at least 10 times this week). But sometimes the ad is the PR. Such is the case with Philadelphia’s Little Baby’s Ice Cream.
 
Let me preface this by saying I love Little Baby’s Ice Cream. No; I ADORE Little Baby’s. Obsessed, really. With 16% butterfat content and flavors like Balsamic Banana and Earl Grey Sriracha, it’s seriously hard to pass up. Little Baby’s has been a wildly successful food truck in the City of Brotherly Love — until now. Little Baby’s recently opened up their first brick-and-mortar store in the East Kensington section of Philly to great fanfare — and a bat**** crazy ad.
 
If you haven’t seen it, here it is. Watch it.

Now take a few minutes to digest.
 
For those not quite brave enough to view, the ad involves an androgynous human being either covered in or made of what appears to be vanilla ice cream. As the narrator describes the quality of this human/ice cream hybrid’s skin and life, the bug-eyed star begins to scoop massive sticky spoonfuls from the top of his head and shove them into his mouth. He is either eating or cleaning himself — unclear. The narrator then goes on to describe the feeling you get when eating Little Baby’s, saying “you’ll wink and nod and hug and high five each other with great enthusiasm.” To be frank, watching this commercial, I felt like I was back in art school at an experimental film festival where the quality of the work was based not on plot or cinematography, but on how badly your audience wanted to turn away.
 
But regardless of what I or anyone else thinks of this ad, it’s working like a charm — at least from the PR perspective.
 
While Little Baby’s is well known throughout Philly (I mentioned the Balsamic Banana flavor, right?), national attention for its store opening was not likely in the cards. Until this commercial.

Suddenly, Little Baby’s is being talked about in the Huffington Post, Gawker, Buzzfeed and more. The company’s social media channels have been flooded. And this video is well on its way to being a full-fledged viral hit — since being posted on August 1, this video has more than 600,000 views and more than 900 comments. Which I’m sure was the point.
 
Lots of people are calling the ad disturbing and twisted, and claiming they will never eat there again — so what? Little Baby’s was founded by former musicians who, according to their website, “conceived the idea of an Ice Cream company as the nexus between their past creative lives and their future.” If that’s what they were going for, I think this ad — and the subsequent social media fury — is pretty representative of their company and brand. They are building up a reputation as a Mapplethorpe in a world of Rembrandts. This ad is just the start of many more disturbingly cool communications to come.
 
So will it sell more ice cream? That remains to be seen. For now, let’s just take it for what it is: the country’s first introduction to the wonderfully twisted world of Little Baby’s Ice Cream.


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About the Author
Kimberly Shrack is a PR pro based in Philadelphia, specializing in writing and content development. She has worked in communication for a variety of industries including technology, travel, art, and healthcare. Follow her on Twitter at @kjshrack.
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