These are hard times, and when things get really dark, we at Vulture like to double down on the things that are still capable of bringing us happiness. That’s why we’re running this recurring column, which serves as half-celebration and half-brainstorm for someone we’re consistently delighted to see show up on our screens: beloved British performer of stage and screen, Matt Berry. He’s best known for shows like Toast of London, The IT Crowd, and What We Do in the Shadows, but we’re confident that a performance by Matt Berry would spruce up all sorts of film and TV stories, big and small.
So a few times a month, we’ll be using this space to propose new, occasionally out-of-the-box opportunities or roles for Mr. Berry. We are confident that should he ever find this column, he will find it both confusing and mortifying.
It’s a new day in America. There is a new president, and with this moment of renewal and reconsideration of what it means to be an American citizen, there is an opportunity for rejuvenation. We can make fresh starts. We can summon the energy for optimism. We can gather up the tattered pieces of our hearts and find within ourselves the capacity for small glimmers of hope. At this nascent, hopeful moment, though, it’s vital that we put our best feet forward. We must begin as we mean to go on. We must make the most of this tender, fragile dream of a better tomorrow. We must put Matt Berry on our televisions as often as possible, and in order to do that, we must make him the official spokesperson for Ocean Spray cranberries.
This is a commonsense reform, but nevertheless, let me take you through exactly why this is the only path forward for us as a country and for the world.
Ocean Spray cranberries, an American treasure if ever there was one, have had roughly the same boring-ass ad campaign for over a decade. The general shtick is two cranberry farmers, one old and one young, standing thigh-deep in a flooded cranberry bog, extolling the virtues of the quintessentially American fruit. Sometimes they talk about mixing cranberries with other fruit. Sometimes they talk about the health benefits. Sometimes there are gentle pratfalls, where their props fall into the pool of floating berries. It’s not a bad ad campaign, as these things go. But the two farmers standing in a field have been doing this bit for years and years — so long, in fact, that there’s one version going back to at least 2008 where the older farmer is befuddled by the word foodie.
It is long past time for a change, and the only sensible way forward is for Ocean Spray to make Matt Berry its new cranberry spokesperson.
Why is this a good choice for Ocean Spray cranberries? They need a new image, first and foremost, but more vitally, they need Matt Berry. The combination of brand and celebrity spokesperson is a mysterious, alchemical cultural compound, and the best spokespeople are the ones who combine something innate in their public selves with some critical part of the company’s image. Cranberries are not especially exciting fruits. They lack the sex appeal of a strawberry or the exoticism of a kiwi. But they have a very strong, tart, potent flavor, and attempting to hide them behind the comforting, familiar cover of an apple does them a disservice.
Cranberries need a spokesperson who will speak up for their potency, someone who will represent their unapologetic flavor with the zest and distinction they deserve. Matt Berry, too, can be something of an acquired taste. Just beneath the surface of his regular middle-aged white-guy exterior, there’s a swift-flowing current of unmistakable strangeness. This is exactly what the cranberry needs. “Just look at these cran-berries,” he will say, standing in the bog in his chest-high waders. “They may appear humble, but they are tiny globes of brilliant intensity, and their glowing red majesty will burnish any juice or gran-ol-a in your cupboard.”
Imagine him, decked out in the waders and sun-protecting hat of a cranberry farmer, striding confidently but gently among a bog flooded with glistening crimson orbs. I’m imagining J.J. Abrams–style sun flares. I’m envisioning a slow-motion shot of a hand scooping up fruit. I’m picturing a pleasant incongruity in watching a British man take joy in such a classic American scene. Most importantly, I’m seeing Matt Berry’s face staring straight at the camera with a look of utter confidence and just the smallest touch of disdain for anyone who doesn’t get why this is amazing.
Obviously there’s also the incredible synergy of someone named Matt Berry becoming the public-facing representative for a berry, but that’s beside the point. We at Vulture would never peg a person’s career and a company’s public image on one coincident of naming and then become obsessed with that idea, and then use it as the foundational premise for an entire Vulture column about one person, and sneakily shift that original concept to later in the series in order to bury the entire thing’s goofy origins. Never.
Clearly this makes sense for Ocean Spray. But why does it make sense for Matt Berry? He should be pursuing big, serious roles like playing Batman, or appearing in The Mandalorian, or taking on most of the parts in Phantom of the Opera. But celebrities also need to earn enough background money so they can tackle their less lucrative dream projects, and association with a high-class, well-made ad campaign can be a useful stepping stool for widespread public familiarity and solidifying a celebrity image.
Berry has done commercial work before. Most recently, he’s been the voice-over for a very effective Advil campaign, which leverages his ability to sound authoritative while also emphasizing an underlying sense of absurdity.
But we need more, and Ocean Spray cranberries need more. It’s time for cranberries to have a spokesperson who will truly represent their unique qualities, and it’s time for America to be blanketed with an ad campaign prominently featuring Matt Berry’s voice and face.
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