No Frills hauls out a diss track in response to Fallon segment

No Frills has found itself in a bananas East Coast hip-hop “feud” with The Tonight Show‘s Jimmy Fallon over its Haulin’ State of Mind album, quickly turning around a playful diss track calling out the talk show host.

The track dropped on Thursday, less than four days after Fallon featured “Bananas,” the lead track from last year’s 13-song album, on “Jimmy’s Do Not Play List,” a segment in which he mocks what he describes as “real songs from real bands” (see it below).

While the song played, Fallon and his sidekick Steve Higgins riffed on everything from the album’s title to its cover art (“no frills on that album cover,” remarked Higgins, inadvertently but succinctly summing up No Frills’ approach to grocery retail). At one point, bandleader QuestLove started drumming along to the song.

Didier Tovel, owner and creative director of the Toronto audio house SNDWRx, which created the musical backing for the album, said he was sitting on his couch when he received a text from former John St. ACD Robbie Percy. It read, “Dude, you’re rapping on Fallon.”

“I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears,” said Tovel. “Not only was the audience loving it, but hearing QuestLove, one of my idols, drumming to the beat I made was surreal.”

It’s unclear how Fallon got his hands on a copy of Haulin’ State of Mind, but a No Frills spokesperson insisted in a statement to The Message that the segment was “totally organic,” a claim backed up by Cher Campbell, chief creative officer of agency partner John St. “[W]e had no idea,” said Campbell via email. “But [Fallon’s] a music guy, so it makes a lot of sense that he would come across it eventually.”

Advertisers and agencies long to create marketing that becomes part of the cultural conversation, and No Frills moved quickly to capitalize on its one minute and 41 seconds of unexpected fame, the length of its exposure in Monday’s segment.

“The #Haulers campaign has always strived not to make ads but to make objects and content that are part of culture and create pride,” said Campbell. “I think seeing your grocery store’s tracks on late night TV does that.”

On Thursday, the discount grocer clapped back at Fallon with a song called “Bananas Remix,” based on the exchange between Fallon and Higgins in which they mocked the song’s assertion that bananas are a portable fruit, leading Higgins to remark that “grapes don’t travel.”

“Jimmy and Steve, I’m glad you had a laugh/but we’re a grocery store, that just happens to make tracks/about bananas…and fresh produce,” the song says. “Oranges are cool, but we prefer banana juice. What’s a split without sliced yellow fruit?/It’s like shopping at No Frills and spending too much loot…”

Even though he was mocking the song, Fallon mistaking No Frills for a band instead of a brand is the “highest compliment,” said Campbell. “It never crossed his mind that this banging track could be for a grocery store, though it was about cold-pressed juice,” she said. “And that was always the intent. Make great tracks that just happen to be about discount kale and bananas.”

“At the end of the day, we’re grateful for the Fallon piece,” said the No Frills spokesperson. “Not only because it brought more profile to the album, but it also gave us another opportunity to engage with our community in a fun and a very ‘no frills’ way.”

Next stop: “Carpool Karaoke.”


Chris Powell