Natural Succession In Chocolatude: Jif's 'Merger' Of Peanut Butter, Chocolate


It seems like yesterday (because it was) that Mad  Blog was madly over-cooking marital metaphors to write about the coupling of two long-standing, but perhaps shy, Heinz condiments, now officially sharing one squeeze bottle to make the company’s latest product innovation, Heinz Pickle Ketchup.

You’ll notice that the name is flatly stated, without fanfare or poetics. The same goes for the what-were-you-waiting-for, just-announced Jif Peanut Butter and Chocolate Flavored Spread.

Jif saved the drama and clever pop-cultural linkage for the ad campaign, featuring “The Merger,” a 90-second short film starring Gerry from “Succession.” Be still my heart! Played by J. Smith-Cameron, Gerry was perhaps the best but most-undersung character on the much-beloved, ethics-free HBO hit series that ended last May after four seasons.



As the long-standing corporate lawyer for the Murdoch-like Roy family and its interests, Gerry was always the adult in the room, often in the background, but ultimately seeing things clearly and making the right decisions. That could not be said for the other endlessly spoiled, manipulative, dysfunctional characters.

She was always two or three steps ahead while playing the corporate game adroitly. The youngest Roy son, Roman, had a perverse sexual thing for her (she was three decades older) but she helped him by being motherly. And in the finale, he ended up firing her for no reason, with no severance. (Unlike the younger son, she got a job at the new entity.)

As this Jif film opens, a giant fictional merger deal between the Peanut Butter Group and Chocolately Corp is taking place, and Smith-Cameron is at the center of it as the CEO of PBG. “This is not a hostile takeover, it’s a merger,” says the young dude from the Chocolately side, but our CEO prevails.

Shown on stage at the big corporate merger announcement, she says the new PB&C combo is “an endless opportunity that’s going to change society!”  It’s a corporate whopper that’s funny.

In the end, Smith-Cameron is shown standing in her office between her two female aides, spooning up all that PB-chocolatey merger goodness right from the jar.

But the smile-inducing cleverness of the video comes from the instantly recognizable “Succession” memes. We even get a shot of our corporate leader from the back, as she faces the window in her glass tower office and talks on her cell. She’s playing hardball with the young dude from Chocolately Corp, underscored by a chilling but tingly piano music score. There are cutaways of Wall Street trading offices and TV talking heads, like Jim Cramer going crazy over the deal, called “The Merger that Everyone Craved.”  It has a slight "Barbie" movie quality.

Back in 2019, Jif, part of the JM Smucker Co, was one of the first Smucker holdings to get a rebranding with a “That’s Jif’ing Good” platform.  It’s a galactic change from the previous confining and dated tagline, “Choosy Moms Choose Jif.”  Now we get a female power player running a corporate monolith who feeds herself the stuff right from the jar, an interesting turn for Gerry.

The campaign, via BBH USA and other Publicis Groupe agencies, also features a fake corporate landing page for PBG that includes all the usual corporate-speak-style bells and whistles.

In the meantime, Jif’s merger with J. Smith-Cameron sure hits the spot.

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