Gary Coleman still fresh for New York Fries - Marketing Magazine

MARKETING NEWS  July 30, 2009   |   By Jeromy Lloyd 



To celebrate its 25th anniversary, New York Fries is tapping into pop culture’s past for a new print and out-of-home campaign from its Toronto-based agency ZigGary Coleman, former child star of the ’80s sitcom Diff’rent Strokes, appears in the ads holding a cup of the chain’s french fries. Copy reads “After 25 years, some things are still fresh.”

After touting the products’ “real ingredients” that use “no preservatives,” the execution ends with the company’s tag line “Real. Fresh. Fries.”



The ad is appearing in September issues of Chatelaine, Today’s Parent, Hello Canada, Famous and People. Transit shelter and mall poster ads will appear Aug. 3.  An augmented reality Facebook application that features a “fortune telling” Coleman bobblehead graphic is also in the works. After downloading and printing a simple graphic that users hold up to their webcam, the bobblehead Coleman will predict the next 25 years of the user’s life. It will then do the same for 25 of the user’s friends.



“Augmented reality hasn’t really taken off in Canada yet,” said Alyssa Berenstein, marketing manager for New York Fries. But Facebook is a good venue to promote such technology because research shows Facebook users over-index on application downloads, she said.

The company plans to launch the application next week, and is considering promoting it with outdoor projections.


Creatively, the print and out-out-home ads are an evolution of the company’s first print campaign—last year’s “Real Fries in a Fake World.”  Those ads showed “fake-looking” people (for example, an Elvis impersonator and a woman with conspicuous breast implants) holding the product. Berenstein said that work contributed to a 7.8% increase in same-store sales in 2008.



But why Gary Coleman? Zig wanted to look at celebrities from the era of New York Fries’ birth “that are no longer all that relevant,” Berenstein said.  “After going through a full list of tenderly remembered people, we decided to go with Gary Coleman because everyone still had this affection for him... We thought he paid-off the innuendo in the ‘fresh’ line really well, and were thrilled he was willing to do it.” While Coleman tested well in terms of recognition among one of the brand’s target markets, mothers, he was also recognized by the under-25 set, cinching the choice for Berenstein.



Zig also tested other 80s-era celebrities, which nearly lead to a public relations disaster. “We were heavily negotiating with Weird Al Yankovic, who ultimately had a conflict and couldn’t do it. In retrospect, we’re happy that didn’t work out because we would have had him posing in [Michael Jackson’s] Thriller-esque throwback. That would have been in bad taste at this time.”