Goodfood is promising happy little dinners

Who: Goodfood, with John St. for strategy and creative, Untitled for production (directed by François Lallier), PR by Agnostic.

What: “The Joy of Dinner,” a new national campaign using a lookalike of famous TV painter Bob Ross to demonstrate how the hybrid food delivery/meal-kit company can help its customers enjoy a stress-free dinner, particularly welcome during the hectic back-to-school season.

When & Where: The campaign launched this week across TV, with OLV, social, and OOH ads launching later this year. There are also several “fun additions” likely to start appearing in mid-fall, said John St.’s chief creative officer, Cher Campbell. “There’s lots of fun you can have with painting things,” she said.

Why: Like painting, many people tend to view cooking as a complex task that’s difficult and time-consuming and best left to people who know what they’re doing. Ross was (and is) beloved for making painting appear easy and accessible, all in an easygoing manner.

The spot is intended to demonstrate how Goodfood can help make dinnertime, typically one of the most stressful times of the day, more relaxing. “When we started thinking about what’s the most relaxing thing you can imagine, it’s Bob Ross,” said Campbell.

How: The ad features “Ross,” complete with the painter’s easy-going style and signature perm, painting a “little spread from Goodfood for the whole family”—in this case, it’s seared sirloin steaks with dijon cornichons pan sauce. “Anybody can make it. Anybody can order it,” he says as he adds what he calls “delicious little friends” to his painting, a reference to Ross’s signature line about “Happy little trees.”

What is it about Bob? Ross died in 1995, but his PBS show The Joy of Painting has been embraced by millennials and Gen Z alike for its simplicity and soothing approach. Episodes of his show are available on YouTube (some of which have more than 2 million views) and streaming services, and his official Twitter account has more than 34,000 followers.

In the English version of the ad, Ross is played by U.S. actor Scott Watson, who said on Twitter that playing Bob Ross was one of his “absolute acting dreams.” He recently posted a photo of himself in character, saying he found the perfect shade of Bob using “bling, fro-work, and leaving all my shirt buttons open.” The actor in the French-language spot is Dominic Roch-Sickini. 

“I don’t think he’s a doppelgänger, but once you have that beard, that wig and that set, you don’t need a doppelgänger,” said Campbell. “You just need to have somebody who’s got a really good vibe.” Quebec director François Lallier also painstakingly recreated the set used on The Joy of Painting, even incorporating tiny details not visible in the final version of the spot, such as the bottle of Vicks Vaporub Ross used to clear his sinuses prior to taping. “It’s method,” said Campbell. “He got everything that Bob would have had.”

Perhaps not surprisingly given Ross’s cultural cachet and continued popularity, it’s not the first time he has been referenced in advertising. In 2016, Adobe ran an ad featuring a lookalike using Photoshop to paint on an iPad, while last year Mtn Dew used a CGI-generated Bob Ross to show him painting a bottle of its signature beverage, complete with “happy little droplets,” into a picturesque landscape. He has also been spoofed by the animated sitcom Family Guy and in a promo spot for Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool 2.

And we quote: “Beyond delivering meal kits and groceries quickly, Goodfood delivers complete stress-relief by solving what’s for dinner. It’s the Bob Ross of meal planning, and who doesn’t love Bob Ross? So, we brought him back to life as Goodfood’s new spokesperson: painting delicious meals with his signature ease and aplomb, all while zenning the viewer out.” — Cher Campbell, chief creative officer, John St.

Chris Powell