Magnolia Bakery throws it back to mid-aughts YouTube in its new campaign

The brand worked with Liam Kyle Sullivan for a spin on his video “Muffins.”
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Liam Kyle Sullivan/Magnolia Bakery

· 4 min read

Let’s get some shoes this bread.

In its latest campaign, Magnolia Bakery worked with Liam Kyle Sullivan, the creator of the 2007 viral YouTube videos “Shoes” and “Muffins,” to promote its new breakfast-loaf sampler pack.

When Adam Davis, Magnolia’s manager of media and marketing, was introduced to the flavors, he told Marketing Brew he remembered “immediately thinking of [‘Muffins’] and then thinking, what is this guy up to these days? Like most people haven’t heard from this guy in 15 years.”

Sullivan told us he was excited to hear from Davis. “The ‘Muffins’ character, she is a spokesperson,” he said. “She’s speaking for her own fictional muffins. And I always thought it could work for an actual product.”

Together, Davis, Sullivan, and the Magnolia team pulled together a two-minute clip that almost identically matches the original, down to the same glasses Sullivan wore in 2007.

Major props

To go back in time, Sullivan said he found parts of the original costume for the old lady, like her glasses, sweatshirt, and wig. He also still had the cookie jar and the picture hanging on the wall.

“Yeah, I save things,” he said. “Who knows—these might come in handy again someday!”

Other things, like the location, required a bit more imagination: Sullivan said his agent had a kitchen similar enough to the one he had at the time, so he didn’t have to go knocking on his old apartment’s front door. Davis said the team then went in with “tiling and paint and the whole nine yards to make it really, really feel like the original.”

Nailing the nostalgia angle was crucial, Davis said, which is why the video was cut almost identically to the original: “We wanted everything to match to a tee so that the second it starts, you’re immediately transported back to 2007.”

The team also wanted the video to feel organic, he explained, so Sullivan was the one to edit it with the help of production studio drama34. Davis said Sullivan was also given a lot of freedom on the script—with exceptions.

“I just kind of threw everything at the wall,” Sullivan said. “I try not to censor myself because I know that’s Adam’s job [to] go, ‘Okay, well, we can’t do that.’ Like we can’t do blood muffin,” as seen in the original video.

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Davis said they replaced some of the old flavors with new ones like “yoga loaf,” Sullivan’s favorite “helicopter loaf,” and the New York-inspired “street-vendor hot-dog loaf.” Ideas also flowed naturally on set.

“When he takes a bite out of the pickle [or with] the alarm clock, when he says ‘time for breakfast’—none of that was in the script,” Davis said. “So it ended up being this kind of pre-shoot brainstorm but also a mid-shoot brainstorm that led to the best content possible.”

Davis said they were also able to squeeze in new details on-screen: “We had our creative team look at the original newspaper clipping that was on the fridge and stylistically create a Magnolia Bakery-specific easter egg,” he said. Sullivan can also be seen wearing a “Bleecker” necklace in homage to the street the original Magnolia is on.

On a whim

Davis said the campaign will begin with Sullivan’s video, running for two weeks in full on YouTube and cut for distribution on channels like TikTok and marketing emails. It’ll then transition into creative that is focused on recipes and the different ways to eat breakfast loaves.

While the video is definitely millennial-focused, Davis said the hope is to reach a broader audience as well. “Naturally, it’s geared to everyone who remembers the original,” he said. “But it also really does a good job of announcing the product in a fun way to our existing audience.”

The entire campaign ties back to Magnolia’s recent rebrand and Davis said he thinks viewers are “surprised in a good way” by the ad’s quirkiness: “One of the layers of our new identity that we launched in April is whimsy. And that’s a big one that we haven’t really gone too far into yet since we launched the rebrand.”

Sullivan said it was “a highlight of [his] life” to bring back these characters. According to Davis, the brand hasn’t ruled out a “Shoes” revival next time around.

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