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The country music lover said, "I would like to listen to 'Achy Breaky Heart' 50 times in a row. The other music lover said, "Please, shoot me first. Country Singer Joke. A guy walks down Music Row carrying a guitar. A car pulls up and a tourist asks, "Excuse me, do you know how you get to the Country Music Hall of Fame?
Not dirty, I promise! A gay man walks into a country bar and says, "Just to let everyone know, I'm gay, but I won't hit on anyone. I just like country music. The next day the same man comes back with another guy and says, "This is my brother. I just want everyone to know that we're both gay, but we won't hit on anyone. He said:. And so Will said 'well finally I took Janet's nose and put that on the raisin and he bought it [snaps fingers] like that.
SW: Back in Fresno, the raisin growers and packers watched with amazement as the Dancing Raisins turned into And since they were already touring the country, at least on TV screens, there was only one logical next step. SW: Ross Vannelli is a music producer.
Back in , the president of Priority Records got in touch with Ross, and he asked him to produce an album of Motown hits, sung by the California Raisins.
RV: I said, 'I think that's a great idea. RV: I said, 'I'm going to do it where it feels authentic. And so he says, 'Ok fine. We'll do that. RV: And I set it up in the studio exactly how like an old Motown session would be. With the musicians all in a room, live, everything.
I mean, we didn't do anything short of that. RV: I think within months it was platinum! And then they called me and they said, 'you know what it's platinum in Canada too! SW: Did it feel at any point while you were working on this album like you were making an ad for raisins?
It lost message. And it became more entertainment than strategy. He watched the original commercial spin off into more and more distant territory. There were California Raisins lunchboxes, then Hardee's started handing out plastic Raisins figurines with Cinnamon 'n' Raisin biscuits.
BK: It actually got to the point where the Dancing Raisins had their own television show. I mean, you can imagine that! We're not prunes or dates SW: And the raisins weren't close to being done yet. They starred in two claymation TV shorts, and a Christmas special that won an Emmy! And if you ever saw him SW: But even as the dancing raisins scored these victories, back in Fresno, things were heating up.
Little disagreements surfaced. What about Michael Jackson and what he was contributing? Like, when Ray Charles had starred in his ad, he agreed to do a cross-country public relations tour, promoting the health and goodness of California raisins. But Michael Jackson, well he was not about that. BK: No, what we got was him for free, but he wasn't gonna do anything. He wasn't gonna eat a raisin, he wasn't gonna attend an event, he wasn't gonna do I said, 'Ok, that's one piece of the marketing puzzle.
Just one piece! What's the whole campaign? What's the message? How is that better than Ray Charles? SW: Between and , the Dancing Raisins raked in more than 7 million dollars in licensing fees. The success of the dancing raisins exposed fractures in the industry which had been forming just under the surface for decades. And as that rift widened, the raisins fell right through it.
Those California Raisins weren't just in California anymore. They were all over the country, on mugs and lunchboxes and tee shirts. But, that's not where this story ends. Sarah tells us what happened next And, when it went down, so did the Dancing California Raisins. The band broke up. The raisin packers didn't reach this decision because anyone had anything against the ad, or because licensing fees had stopped rolling in, or even because raisin sales were down.
In fact, the industry was on an upswing. But that wasn't the story around town. Some people were saying they weren't getting a big enough slice of the Dancing Raisins pie. You know how families can be about money. And the California raisin industry is, after all, a big family. So, just like at Thanksgiving dinner, while CALRAB tried to calm everyone down and broker peace from the head of the table, squabbling raisin packers aired old grudges and argued about who was and was not getting their fair share of the cash.
And by the end of the night, all anyone could agree on was that one of the siblings was getting a bigger cut than everyone else. Sunmaid had always been the golden child, and now, they were making off with the family fortune.
BK: There's always been a SW: Barry Kriebel was president of Sunmaid at the time. And even in the s, Sunmaid was like the "Kleenex" of the raisin industry. You asked someone to name a raisin brand, and they would say "Sunmaid. There were some other big names, like Dole and Del Monte, but they didn't just sell raisins. And because they were big companies, not headquartered in the Fresno circle, they were not at the table, and participating in all of this back-and-forth.
And that might be part of why some raisin packers felt like this all boiled down to: "it's us versus Sunmaid. SW: Let me explain. Almost all the packers resented Sunmaid, but not all for the same reasons.
Some had small brands that competed with Sunmaid. And because Sunmaid was so much bigger—the Kleenex of raisins! But an even bigger faction of raisin packers did not have their own name-brands.
They sold most of their raisins in bulk, to ingredient customers, like cereal brands or bakeries. And they were hearing from those ingredient customers that they had an issue with the ads:.
You do the math on how many tons of raisins you're buying from them, and bam, you can see exactly how much of the total cost is going towards California raisin ads. BK: If you're one of the largest ingredient buyers for bread or cereal or something, then really you're paying for it, right?
It's a tax. SW: And that tax is paying for a campaign that's not even advertising your product! Barry says the CALRAB board tried brainstorming ways to include other raisin products, like trail mix or raisin bagels, in the commercials BK: And then we'd have arguments about whether, you know, you could ever have somebody eat a raisin, I mean now that you've personified them I mean….
SW: For the packers who did have their own brands and worried Sunmaid was running away with raisin sales, there was another issue. Which meant packers couldn't slap a Dancing Raisin on their packaging or use the characters in ads unless they got their idea approved by the board. Lots of brands tested the limits of this rule, including Sunmaid:.
BK: I got permission from the manager to create a claymation ad where I had the Dancing Raisins singing to the Sunmaid girl.
America's favorite raisin. My girl! SW: In the end, the ad went to air. But of course, that was not really the end of it. Because the smaller packers still thought Sunmaid had an unfair advantage. KB: Once we started the Dancing Raisins, people were going to the store asking for Dancing Raisin raisins, and there weren't any! SW: But you know who was on that shelf? Unlike the smaller brands in the industry, it could afford to pay for that space.
And since there wasn't a "Dancing Raisin" brand in the store, small packers worried Sunmaid was getting all the business. KB: We're not getting our fair share of it.
Which wasn't true. It wasn't true. But there was enough leadership to sway the ones that weren't smart enough to realize what a good program it was. SW: When the Dancing Raisins ad stopped airing, Sunmaid's share of direct raisin sales—like in boxes on grocery store shelves—actually increased. That could mean that while the ad was running, more customers were buying store-brand raisins instead of Sunmaid raisins and store brand raisins were supplied by those other California raisin packers.
But Barry Kriebel says, at that point, the actual facts had stopped mattering. Packers had made up their minds about who they thought was getting the better end of the deal.Bring home the most memorable romantic hits of the '70s, '80s and '90s. This collection of timeless classics includes complete liner notes with photos and stories about the artists and their music. As our gift to you for ordering, you'll also receive a free a bonus CD with 18 of the most feel good love songs .