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Dr. Ruth and Cardi B: A Perfect Collab for Marketing Vodka-Infused Whipped Cream


Dave Dreyer, CMO at Starco Brands and former long-time TBWA employee, speaks to LBB’s Addison Capper about the opportunities of marketing “a modern-day invention factory”

Dr. Ruth and Cardi B: A Perfect Collab for Marketing Vodka-Infused Whipped Cream

Dave Dreyer cut his teeth in the business as a long-time employee of TBWA\Chiat\Day and global managing director of Media Arts Lab, the network's agency dedicated to Apple. 

Some years ago, Dave crossed the bridge from agency to client, from account manager to account managed. He is the chief marketing officer of Starco Brands, somewhat of a holding company for various products that he dubs “a modern day invention factory with a mission of building behaviour-changing brands.” 

An example of one of those brands is Whipshots, a vodka-infused whipped cream that is co-owned and founded by Cardi B. For Valentine’s Day, the brand launched a brilliantly cheeky social campaign with the world’s most famous sex therapist, Dr. Ruth. As you can probably imagine, it alluded to the many ways that a vodka-infused whipped cream could be sensibly put to work in the bedroom. 

LBB’s Addison Capper caught up with Dave about that campaign, his plan for Starco brands, and how his agency experience informs his approach to marketing.

LBB> You were a long-time Chiat Day employee - how does your experience at that agency inform the way that you approach marketing for Starco brands?

David> DISRUPTION. The TBWA philosophy of ‘disruption’ is a guiding force in my professional life. In any given category there’s a set of conventions. Our job is to identify the conventions that are holding us back, and disrupt them; look at the category differently, and do what others are too scared to do. So here I am, with the keys to all of these great brands, with no one telling me ‘no’. Let the ‘disruption’ commence.

LBB> Tell me a bit about Starco in general - who owns Starco and what is its overarching vision?

David> I like to think of Starco Brands as a modern-day invention factory with a mission of building behaviour-changing brands. With access to a network of manufacturing plants covering eight different CPG categories, the company is able to vertically integrate, to launch and scale brands with innovative IP that capitalise on a white space in the category. Sometimes those brands are invented in-house, and other times, we acquire brands that align with our mission and integrate them into our system. In both cases, our goal is to build power brands that have an impact on culture. We are a publicly traded company (OTC: STCB) just getting off the ground. However, we’re off to a great start with Whipshots.

LBB> What are your main aims and ambitions from a marketing perspective?

David> I’m not a big fan of marketing jargon and buzzwords. Simply put, I want to build a stable of power brands that lead culture and are beloved by their fans. I’m not looking for incremental growth, I’m aiming for monumental growth. Each and every time, I want to take big swings. Fewer, bigger, better programmes that truly move the needle and make an impact. I want to put work out into the world that scales our brands and makes my marketing colleagues jealous. And I want people who know nothing about marketing to see our work and just think, ‘wow, that’s really cool’ and then tell their friends about it.  All that, and I want something my mom can brag to her friends about.

LBB> One of your brands is Whipshots, which is co-owned by Cardi B. How do you utilise Cardi B's platform to drum up interest in your marketing?

David> Cardi’s social footprint is incredible. We work with her to determine the best channel for all of our initiatives. Over the holidays, for example, she used TikTok to teach the world how to make a Cardi Cocoa – a boozy hot chocolate topped with Peppermint Whipshots, a special flavour we released during the holidays. For our Valentine’s Day campaign, we collectively chose to use Twitter, as it’s the best forum for Cardi to have a dialogue with her community.  She introduced the Bardi Gang to Dr. Ruth and the campaign, as only she can do. With one tweet, we were able to spur a great deal of conversation, and a lot of love.

LBB> For that Valentine’s campaign, you got sex therapist Dr Ruth to star in some very cheeky social films. Considering the gen z focus of the brand, what inspired you to get Dr. Ruth involved in your Valentine's campaign?

David> Whipshots goes well on top of everything. For Valentine’s Day, that takes on a special meaning. We thought our fans could use a little inspiration, as well as some education, so we went to the world’s original sex therapist for help. Dr. Ruth is a true national treasure. Period. While true that she might not be a household name for those under 35, her teachings stand the test of time. As does the manner in which she delivers that message. So if you knew her before this campaign, great. If you didn’t, you’ll love her the minute you watch our first video. 

LBB> How was it working with Dr. Ruth? Did she take much direction or was it more about letting her do her thing?

David> Honestly, we were honoured when Dr. Ruth agreed to be a part of the campaign.  We just wanted her to be her. No ad conceits or contrived scripts. Just authentic Dr. Ruth.  We had a list of areas we asked her to cover, and just let the camera roll as she answered the questions. She referred to herself as ‘one take Westheimer’, which she was. 

LBB> What kind of results did you see from the campaign?

David> The campaign was a hit with both our fans and our distributors, who credit the brand with consistently bringing programmes that drive consumer demand. The ‘Shots of Pleasure’ campaign enabled us to organically insert ourselves into the cultural conversation. We look forward to Whipshots being a part of Valentine’s Day celebrations for years to come.

LBB> How does having Cardi as the head of the brand help you in terms of brand building? And how does this filter out across the Starco brands, if at all?

David> Cardi is truly a partner in Whipshots. She’s not an ambassador, or an influencer, or a spokesperson. She loves this brand and is involved in all brand planning, from product development to marketing programmes. She has a true grasp of pop culture, and we truly work together to ensure that the brand is always top of mind. We’re also very cognisant that while Cardi is the brand steward, we don’t want Whipshots to solely be ‘the Cardi B brand’. Whipshots is building its own identity with a fanbase that extends beyond that of Cardi’s core community. However, having a business partner with a collective social footprint of over 200 million gives us a nice push.
Starco Brands itself employs more of a holding company model, with all of our brands tied together by our mission of being ‘behaviour-changing’. As noted, Cardi is heavily involved with Whipshots, but not across the portfolio of brands. There may come a time where we do a little cross-promotion, however, we haven’t gotten there quite yet.

LBB> Even though there are four or so brands within Starco, the branding seems quite consistent across them. Is this important for you? If so, why?

David> Absolutely. In addition to being the CMO of Starco, I’m an adjunct professor at USC where I’ve had the pleasure of teaching an Introduction to Advertising course for the past ten years. Like I teach my students, no matter the category, the fundamentals to building strong brands are the same. Have a rock solid brand position and be rigorous about reinforcing that position at all touchpoints. As we continue to fine-tune and build the brands within our portfolio, you’ll see that each will carry a well-defined value proposition brought to life with breakthrough creative. We’re not there yet, but that’s the goal.

LBB> How does your advertising experience feed into a job client-side as a marketer?

David> Advertising is all about ideas and creativity. On the agency side, we don’t make cars, or computers, or alcoholic whipped cream. We make ideas. Ideas that sell cars, computers, and alcoholic whipped cream; but ideas nonetheless. That’s how I grew up in the industry, going to work each day embracing the words ‘what if we’. As I made the transition to the client side, I’m now responsible for making products, but also generating the ambitious ideas that sell them. I know I wouldn’t be the marketer I am today without having had the agency experience as my foundation. 

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Categories: Dairy, Food

LBB Editorial, Fri, 17 Mar 2023 14:10:57 GMT