It's an unprecedented time for brand deals and nonsensical collaborations
I'm convinced that the Supreme Oreos that terrorized the internet (and which I haven't stopped thinking about since) were the cultural reset.
Released in February 2020, right as everything started to go wrong, these bright red Supreme Oreos were met with equally visceral confusion and anticipation. Despite many on the internet claiming that Supreme and Oreo had gone too far, the 3-pack of Oreos inevitably sold out in minutes online.
It seems Oreo have not learned their lesson. Just announced: their collaboration with Lady Gaga
The limited edition Chromatica cookies are inspired by Gaga's recent dance pop album and aim to "spread musical messages of kindness throughout the country," according to the Oreo website. To promote the launch, Gaga and Oreo also announced a "Sing it with Oreo" campaign in which fans can send their loved ones "Oreograms" — personalized messages that get turned into songs. No doubt these were inspired by the TikTok craze that has brands clamoring to create short form, music-based content on or off the platform
The Chromatica Oreos themselves are bright pink with green filling, though apparently they're just vanilla flavored.
Of all the strange things birthed by the hellscape of 2020 (the recent Match.Com ad might have made some points), food collaborations are amongst the strangest. While celebrities are no strangers to brand endorsements, especially with product ads ubiquitous on social media, this year has seen an increase in big names becoming spokespeople for household items over luxury goods.
With limited capacity for filming, many Hollywood stars have turned to high profile brand endorsement deals. Gaga is one of many who have found themselves collaborating with household brands. Celebs, they're just like us!
So with everyone doing it, brands are coming up with wilder and flashier concepts to compete for consumer attention. And though not all of them make total sense, the list of food collabs is long and somewhat iconic.
Travis Scott and McDonalds
In the middle of the summer, all the hip-hop loving teens flocked to McDonalds in droves. Cactus Jack devotees garnered many a sigh from retail employees and many a meme from the internet in search of the ultimate grail: the Travis Scott Burger.
For what was essentially just a McDonald's Quarter Pounder with pickles, the Travis Scott Burger was released alongside a huge marketing effort which included merchandise that sold out immediately and found itself reselling for egregious mark ups.
Nowhere near done with his Covid-era collaborations, Scott is working on a perfume with the cult favorite label Byredo. Head of Byredo, Ben Goram, teamed up with Travis to create a scent that supposedly smells like space — or at least what they imagine. Considering Scott's most successful album, Astroworld, is tangentially space themed, this collaboration makes more sense than the McDonald's one and will inevitably draw a different crowd.
After all, there's a difference between who is willing to buy their favorite rapper's burger and who is willing to spend upwards of $200 on a cologne.
Charli D'amelio x Dunkin Donuts
TikTok star Charli D'Amelio went one step further than most of her social media peers when it came to her Dunkin collaboration. Instead of promoting the company on her Instagram or TikTok, she collaborated with Dunkin to create the "The Charli" — an eponymous order of her signature drink.
Like the Travis Burger, it's not the product itself that matters, it's the clout. "The Charli" isn't a complex order, it's just a Dunkin' Cold Brew with whole milk and three pumps of caramel swirl. However, the power of seeing the TikTok dancer recreate viral dances, then sip some Dunkin in her downtime cannot be underestimated.
The marketing roll out for this collab took advantage of the star's social media fame by promising fans a chance to not just hang out with Charli, but to create content with her. Essentially, the chance to go viral which … is hard to pass up.
However, there was some controversy at the fact that a coffee drink was being so explicitly marketed to young teens. While excess caffeine isn't great for anyone, it especially isn;t good for younger consumers. With the cold brew, which offers more concentrated caffeine than most coffees, diluted by the generous caramel swirl, "The Charli" might just be a set up for a both a sugar and caffeine crash.
Ariana Grande x Starbucks
But let it be known, Charli is not the first star to collaborate with a nationwide coffee chain.
In 2018, Ariana Grande collaborated with Pringles to celebrate the release of her massive single, "God is a Woman." The video, filled with ethereal energy, features Grande floating on clouds so the drink was aptly named the "Cloud Macchiato."
After tweeting the cloud emoji over 98 times, Grande announced the drink: an iced cinnamon or caramel macchiato with signature Starbucks cloud foam. Immediately, fans rushed to get their orders but a few were disappointed to find out the truth: it wans't vegan.
Vocal about her veganism, Grande had urged her fans to try the drink with Soy milk. However, she left out that the Starbucks Cloud Foam contains egg whites. And unfortunately for many fans, they only found out after it was too late...yikes.
Tyler the Creator x Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream
Tyler, the Creator is well known to his fans for his epic collaborations.
Even in his younger days, before reaching his current heights of commercial success and superstardom, he was synonymous to his fans with brands such as Vans and Supreme.
Tyler has always used his merch collaborations to further define his personal brand, often choosing collaborations which feel true to his music and his art at the time. So when he was the patron saint of skater boys, it made sense for him to collaborate with Vans. As he transitioned towards becoming a more alternative artist, he switched shoe loyalties to Converse with his highly successful GOLF le FLEUR collection of shoes and clothes.
His GOLF le FLEUR brand recently crossed over to the food realm with Ohio based ice cream brand, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. The performer visited the company's headquarters during his Igor tour, already a fan of the brand having frequented their stores in LA.
The collaboration released two flavors: "Pluto Bleu," a blood orange and blueberry mix, and "Snowflake," a mint and white chocolate ice cream flavor.
The limited collaborations sold over 4,000 pints on the first day of its launch and over 20,000 scoops during its first week and has since been rereleased.
Selena Gomez x BLACKPINK
To celebrate her single with the K-Pop mega girl group BLACKPINK, "Ice Cream," Selena Gomez released some ice cream.
The flavor took its inspiration from the group's name, a pink vanilla ice cream made with cookie bites and fudge. The video features retro ice-cream shop aesthetics and lots of bubblegum pink aesthetic fodder to match.
Selena's pints of ice cream were made in collaboration with the iconic New York City restaurant Serendipity, which is a tourist and celebrity destination which has been the subject of a movie and featured in many others — especially for their desserts and frozen hot chocolate, so this collaboration is welcome to fans of both the singers and the classic desserts.
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