How Wonderful Pistachio Ads Cracked the Culture Code

Wonderful Pistachios - Honey Badger does it badass

Wonderful Pistachios - Lucy does it for kicks

How do you create instant brand credibility and cultural relevance? Pistachios do it with a lot of help from their friends. In the process, they set a great example of how to embrace pop culture without being derivative or cheesy.

The ads, running since 2009, incorporate a laundry list of minor celebrities, pop culture figures and internet memes, all giving their own take on how they crack open a pistachio nut. I’ve gathered as many of them as I could find below (many of the earlier ads featuring people like the Winkelvoss twins and Snooki are no longer available online).

Why do these ads work so well? I’ve identified five core reasons:

  1. Simplicity. Each ad is simply an answer to the unasked question “How do YOU open a pistachio”.
  2. Humor.
  3. Familiarity without ego. Each of the “stars” of these ads has achieved a level of cultural relevance that most people feel is more than they deserve. They are our guilty pleasures – stars that we don’t put up on pedestals. That makes it easier for them to poke fun at themselves and easier for us to enjoy it.
  4. Coverage. The campaign truly does have something for everyone. Whether you wax nostalgic about "Mr. Bill" and the Village People, or are all about the latest meme (like the loveable Honey Badger), you'll find something to grab onto.
  5. Branding. Simple white backgrounds, use of the brand colors of black and green whenever possible for wardrobe and omnipresent pistachio nut create a perfect overlay of the Wonderful Pistachio brand on top of the respective brands of the stars.

The end result is that the pistachio has created its own meme by borrowing credibility and relevance from all of the others. Now that I’ve cracked this one open, enjoy the ads!

Honey Badger | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' ad

PSY | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' Super Bowl 2013 Ad

Harlem Globetrotters | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' ad

Frankenweenie | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' ad

Manny Pacquiao | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' ad


Brobee (Yo Gabba Gabba) | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' ad

The Simpsons | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' Ad

The Village People | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' ad

Secret Service | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' ad

Snoop | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin ad

Google | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' Ad

Twitter | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin ad

Keyboard Cat | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' Ad

Wee-Man | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' Ad

Lucy (of the Peanuts Gang) | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' Ad

Mobster | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' Ad

Drill Sergeant (R. Lee Ermey) | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' Ad
[Removed at the request of Wonderful Pistachios - See comments below this blog entry]

Dominatrix | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' ad

Mr. Bill | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin' ad

Angry Birds | Wonderful Pistachios Get Crackin’ ad

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2 Responses to How Wonderful Pistachio Ads Cracked the Culture Code

  1. April S. says:

    Thanks so much for the mention! FYI – we no longer have rights to Drill Sergeant video. Can you remove please?

    • I have removed that one. This does highlight the one drawback of this approach. That much third-party licensing makes it tough to retain perpetual rights, even to your own commercials. There were some other great ones that apparently are no longer available for viewing (like the Winkelvoss Twins one). Oh well, nothing's perfect. Hopefully they'll keep cracking new spots for years to come.

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