Halo Top ad by Wolfgang and Ulf Johansson Bike

New ads for ‘healthier’ ice cream brand Halo Top send up self-care clichés

These surreal spots from creative agency Wolfgang and director Ulf Johansson offer a new perspective on ‘wellness’

Low-calorie ice-cream brand Halo Top has long been known for injecting a healthy dose of humour into its ads: a 2019 campaign based around the idea ‘ice cream for adults’ was a brilliantly bleak tableaux of children’s positive illusions about the world being shattered; while 2017’s Eat the Ice Cream took a Black Mirror-ish turn as dessert’s simple pleasures became sinister harbingers of doom. “Everyone you love is gone. There is only ice-cream,” a robot intones.

The brand’s new ad campaign is far less bleak, though just as wryly funny, literally stacking up clichés around self-care until they reach ridiculous proportions. The spots were created by LA-based agency Wolfgang and director Ulf Johansson, who’s previously worked with brands including Old Spice and directed the deeply strange 2016 Super Bowl ad hit ‘puppy monkey baby’.

The new Put Yourself On Top campaign looks to help Halo Top “disrupt the wellness category by giving people permission to be selfish, and put themselves on top for once”, as Wolfgang puts it. “Putting yourself last, as we’ve been told to do, isn’t actually good for you. When you embrace the fact that wellness starts with you first, you’ll soon realise that a little selfishness is no longer taboo, it’s actually healthier — for everybody.”

The ads work on a similar premise: opening with a close up of someone enjoying a self-care activity — running on a treadmill or in a yogic tree pose — while enjoying a Halo Top product and staring beatifically into the distance. Then as the camera pans out, things get a lot more surreal: we see the man ‘running his way to enlightenment’ is doing so on a treadmill on top of a bubble bath balanced on stacked stones, in a canoe, off-grid, with a raccoon. 

Similarly, the yoga lady is balanced on a surfboard with a goat, which is sitting on top of a pile of knitted ‘good vibes’ and romance novels that have replaced more depressing, email-based reading material. Naturally, she’s doing all this while taking her ‘fresh air commute’ to work on a bike. These people have literally put themselves on top.

Wolfgang group creative Adam Stockton has said that the agency was tasked with “shifting from a focus on low-calorie content to overall wellness”, and so the campaign looked to take a bolder approach that moved away from “conventional ‘be good to yourself’ messaging”.

The campaign is rolling out across TV, social and OOH throughout 2022 alongside new product launches.

Agency: Wolfgang
Director: Ulf Johansson
Production Company: Smith & Jones
VFX: The Mill