The events of summer 2020 sparked a nationwide reckoning on racial injustice, exposing deep-seated racism throughout American culture—sometimes in the most unexpected places. Even the ice cream truck jingle, “Turkey in the Straw,” was revealed to have roots in 19th-century racist minstrel shows. Good Humor knew it had to do something and decided to acknowledge the jingle’s hurtful legacy and stop it from reaching another generation of children.
STRATEGY & EXECUTION
When a viral video resurfaced the racist origins of the minstrel tune “Turkey in the Straw” we knew the brand had the opportunity and responsibility to respond with a solution that spread joy, in a moment when the country needed it most. Our idea was simple: join forces with an iconic Black artist to create a jingle that represents all communities.
So we turned to Wu-Tang Clan’s mastermind, rapper and composer RZA. RZA composed a track that mashed up the signature tones of ice cream truck music with Wu-Tang flavor, which we tested on an actual ice cream truck speaker to ensure its final mix would work in the wild. Edelman also turned RZA’s original music into two key pieces of content: a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process, and a music video showcasing the new jingle spreading joy to the streets. Both lived on a mobile-optimized website featuring background on the brand, “Turkey in the Straw’s” history and rationale for our intervention.
Most importantly, we negotiated with RZA to make his track available free of charge to any ice cream truck driver…in perpetuity. This ensured our jingle wasn’t a one-off stunt, but rather a timeless track played by trucks for years to come. RZA agreed, and on August 13, 2020, Good Humor dropped a new jingle for a new era. The track was announced alongside ice cream truck driver education about the history of “Turkey in the Straw” and resources for replacing it with RZA’s creation.
On launch day, Edelman secured a CBS This Morning exclusive with RZA and debuted the Good Humor jingle for a national audience. From there, the story caught fire – earning 3B+ impressions. CNN. Vice. Rolling Stone. Billboard. NPR. We trended on Apple News and Twitter and hit the front page of Reddit. Good Humor’s jingle won the Internet for the day. We even saw emerging musicians on Instagram start to remix the track with their own lyrics.
And in the ultimate endorsement, Nichols Electronics, the lead ice cream truck music box manufacturer in the U.S., announced that they were replacing “Turkey in the Straw” with our jingle permanently. In a true testament to how this work solved the original business challenge, all the attention, gratitude, and brand differentiation led to a 25 percent lift in Good Humor’s e-comm business.