Kraft Foods, maker of JELLO Pudding Pops, wants to distance itself as far away as possible from entertainer Bill Cosby, whose commercials for the dessert that ‘wiggles and jiggles’ made him one of the most successful brand spokespersons of the 1980s. In recent months, Cosby has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least a dozen women, with many institutions associated with the actor and comedian scrambling to cut all ties.
“The first step is to rebrand Pudding Pops,” says JELLO product manager Katharine Parkinson. “The shape and color of some of our Pudding Pops have taken on negative associations through no fault of our own,” she stressed. “We don’t want people to think of Bill Cosby when they put a Pudding Pop into their mouths, or the mouths of their children. Unfortunately, our chocolate Pop is too suggestive of the very acts Bill Cosby is being accused of committing. We’re protecting a wholesome, cherished treat enjoyed by millions of people around the world.”
This is not the first time a major corporation has had to repair its damaged image. In 1981, the pain reliever Tylenol had its brand nearly destroyed when a series of product tampering struck fear into consumers. The makers of Tylenol were one of the first companies to use tamper-resistant packaging, now an industry standard.
Shopper Linda Boreman, a regular consumer of Pudding Pops, thinks it’s the right move. “My kids were joking around about it, saying things like ‘I got her right in the pudding pop’ and repeating other nasty things they read on the Internet. I don’t find those jokes funny at all, and now I’m ashamed to buy the Pops. I used to be embarrassed to buy feminine products, but now I’d rather be seen with a box of tampons poking out of my basket. When they change the product so it doesn’t remind me of sucking on a little Cosby, I’ll be the first one to gobble one down.”
Retailers have the option of selling off or exchanging their existing stock for the newly designed Pops. The new packaging prominently features vanilla and strawberry flavors, and the chocolate ones have changed shape, now coming in octangular shapes on a stick.
“Nothing is octagon shaped, at least nothing dirty or overtly sexual,” said Parkinson. “Our design team has been very busy, and we’re confident that our Pops will soon be melting in the mouths of millions of consumers once again!”