This is a post about double entendres so I probably shouldn’t mention that it is also about brand extensions. Now, that I have that out of my system. . .Ben and Jerry’s decision to add a “Schweddy Balls” flavor to its ice cream line-up is one of the strangest branding/marketing decisions I’ve seen in a long time. No, make that forever. There’s a lot riding on whether consumers will relate to the not-so-recent, yet oddly memorable Saturday Night Live sketch spoofing National Public Radio at its quirkiest and featuring a guest appearance by Alec Baldwin as holiday food purveyor, Pete Schweddy, owner of Season’s Eatings.
Ben and Jerry is known for its own sinful fare — homemade ice cream with clever counter culture names like Cherry Garcia, Phish Food, and Half Baked. Founders Ben and Jerry are also recognized as social activists for liberal causes. So, what would possess them to introduce a new flavor based on a somewhat obscure SNL skit from yesteryear, more specifically a skit entirely based on testicular and oral sex jokes?
Don’t believe me? You can watch the ice cream’s inspiration here. Not really sure what Ben and Jerry were thinking. Is this a fanboy tribute to Alec Baldwin? Is it a deliberate attempt to tweak social conservatives, who already have their panties in a bunch over the announcement? Is it a surefire way to drum up publicity in an anti-sweets nanny-state environment? Is it a tone-deaf mistake because no one in Vermont gets all the inside jokes in the SNL skit? Hard to say, because this is such a strange and out of left field product launch.
Ice cream is a family-oriented, dairy-farm-fresh food category. Even with Ben and Jerry’s hippie-dippie history, naming a flavor after an inside sex joke is beyond edgy. It is an idea cooked up on hallucinogens, then best cancelled when the drugs wear off. Then, again if Ben and Jerry are mining SNL for flavor names, they can’t do worse than this audio clip.