izards, love and foot-long fruit snacks might seem an unlikely kid spot mix, but the unexpected was exactly what Saatchi & Saatchi New York was after in convincing young consumers to ask for General Mills’ Fruit by the Foot.
‘In all of our executions, we try to tell a story about what’s funny or cool about a fruit snack that is really, really long – which, of course, is this snack’s point of difference,’ explains Saatchi creative director Steve Centeno. ‘It was one of those spots you just know is going to be good. You can’t go wrong with a lizard.’
Filmed in one day in Miami Beach, the spot – ‘Lizard Love’ – shows a long-tongued reptile falling in love with a youth enjoying the lengthy confection on the beach. The animatronic lizard (created by North Hollywood, California’s Anatomorphex) mistakes the kid’s dangling red Fruit By The Foot for a sexy lizard tongue – and the Isaac Hayes soundtrack says the rest.
‘We were relying on the interaction between the boy and the lizard, and in this case, the child actor was awesome. Sometimes child actors are good in casting, but when you get them on set it’s like…uggh,’ says Ami Anderson, Fruit by the Foot marketing manager. ‘As for the lizard, we had three guys manipulating it to make it move, breathe and wink. This was one of the easiest shoots I’ve been on.’
The spot passed muster with a focus group consisting of five girls and five boys, with both sexes giving it equal points. ‘Lizard Love’ began airing on June 1, 2002 and it runs until November on kid-centric channels such as Nickelodeon, ABC, ABC Family and Fox. The first month of spot play saw Fruit by the Foot’s volume increase by 23%. The spot – one of two produced annually for the brand – targets roughly 20 million kid consumers ages six to 12. The off-beat, interspecies comedy in ‘Lizard Love’ is a small departure from the brand’s successful 2001 campaign, but in general, it continues the theme The Fun Goes On and On.
”Lizard Love’ breaks out – it’s not the typical consumer product pitch,’ says Anderson. ‘It has very little copy; instead, the music and the action pull you in. I’ve worked at General Mills for eight years, and this is probably the best spot I have ever worked on.’