By Heather Taylor
Ho, ho, ho! Last year, the Green Giant teased a tentative return to the Valley in an ad mysteriously hashtagged #TheGiantAwakens. After a lengthy hiatus, the larger than life harvest icon from B&G Foods is officially back in the limelight. He stars in two new commercial spots from Deutsch New York that detail what he learned since he was away. Some of those highlights include creating new products like Riced Veggies and Veggie Tots, making the world’s greatest snow angels, and understanding that getting kids (and adults) to eat veggies is easy when they taste great.
The first thing that caught our eye? This big green guy has come a long way from his early designs! From his carefully trimmed fingernails to his robust physique, the Green Giant circa 2017 is more realistic-looking than ever before — so much so that you’d be surprised to learn that he originally had orange skin! Let’s throwback to how the Green Giant’s look has evolved over the decades.
“Green Giant” was actually a nickname for large-sized peas sold by the Minnesota Valley Canning Company in the 1920s. General Manager Ward Cosgrove took the name and added an actual giant to its label. When the Minnesota Valley Canning Company became a client for Chicago ad agency Erwin, Wasey & Co., the giant was dropped off in the care of a young copy chief named Leo Burnett.
Burnett transformed the giant from an orange, grim gnome clad in bearskin to a leafy, friendly fella. He also added, “Jolly” before his name because Burnett liked the way it sounded. The Minnesota Valley Canning Company did too and when Burnett founded his own ad agency in 1935, their business and the newly revamped Jolly Green Giant came along for the ride.
The Jolly Green Giant’s first TV appearance in 1958 was a flop, scaring children with movement more akin to a monster than a beloved brand mascot. His commercial success in 1961 was largely thanks to featuring animated helpers and repositioning the Giant to stand a bit into the distance to appear less intimidating to viewers. And let’s not forget that throaty deep “Ho, ho, ho!” While Herschel Bernardi served as the Jolly Green Giant’s original voice, vocal actor Elmer “Len” Dresslar provided the pipes behind his famous tagline.
The 1970s welcomed a more rugged, outdoorsy Green Giant to the Valley, accompanied by his enthusiastic apprentice, the Little Sprout. Periodically throughout these spots, the Green Giant adds a red scarf to his ensemble for commercials where he advertises frozen vegetables.
While we may never fully know where the Green Giant travelled during his “long journey” sabbatical, we do know he has a passport loaded with stamps from a 1993 international trip to countries including Japan and France. Now that he’s back in the Valley, Dan Kelleher, CCO at Deutsch New York, promises that we’ll keep seeing the legendary giant in modern, fun scenarios. Welcome home, Green Giant!