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California Raisins -  In 1987, the advertising world was taken by surprise with the popularity of a group of animated singing raisins who pushed the goodness of sweet, juicy California raisins.

California Raisins

Their trademark song "I Heard It Through The Grapevine," (a Marvin Gaye classic) boosted raisin sales and instigated a rash of spin-off products such as T-shirts, small rubber figurines, etc.

Modeled in clay, the animated Raisins were the creation of Will Vinton (his studio was located in Portland, Oregon). The raisins began to do ads for takeout pizza, fried chicken and even appeared in a CBS Holiday special A Claymation Christmas Celebration (12/21/87).

The Raisins were given names in 1988 via a national "Name the Raisins" contest. The head trio consisted of Ben Indasun, Tiny Goodbite, and Justin X. Grape. Others members included Sugar E. Treat, Rye Stack, and Delicious.

In 1989, a CBS-TV special Meet the Raisins traced the lives of the Raisins (Red, Stretch, A.C., and Beebop) from humble roots playing high school dances to their arrival on the national pop music scene.

Prior to creating his Raisin character's Will Vinton had won an Academy Award in 1975 for his short film Closed Mondays (an early Claymation project about a drunk who wandered into an art museum and watched the art work come to life).

Claymation executives even got rock superstar Michael Jackson and R&B favorite Ray Charles to star as clay figures in some of their commercials. The "Michael Raisin" ad debuted on July 28th, 1989 at 5,700 movie theaters nationwide. In 1990, the Claymation special The Raisins: Sold Out aired.

The California Raisin campaign was created in 1986 at the request of the California Raisin Advisory Board (CALRAB) to increase raisin sales. The campaign was produced two young copywriters, Seth Werner and Dextor Fedor from the San Francisco-based Foote, Cone and Belding Agency. Launched in 1987, the California Raisin campaign successfully took the lowly dried-up grape from a wimpy, lonely, dull food and turned it into something hip and cool. CALRAB (disbanded in 1994) is now the California Raisin Marketing Board.

The Saturday morning cartoon series THE CALIFORNIA RAISINS SHOW/CBS/1989-90 starred raisins named Stretch, Beebop, A.C. and Red. See also "The Noid"


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