Neale’s Sweet ‘n Nice tells the story of its (real) founder

Juniper Park's incubator for BIPOC-owned businesses helps the ice cream brand express its identity ahead of expansion.

Neale's Sweet N' Nice_founder (1)

Last week, Juniper Park\TBWA launched its internal incubator and mentorship program, called Trampoline, aimed at both helping BIPOC-owned SMEs with their branding efforts, as well as BIPOC students looking to enter the advertising industry.

The shop says it is working with external partners, industry experts and educational institutions to identify diverse students and small businesses on a quarterly basis.

Neale’s Sweet ‘n Nice (an ice-cream brand with roots in the Carribean) is the first to receive pro-bono branding and creative services from Trampoline, while three students were chosen from OCAD, Miami Ad School and Ryerson University to join the agency for a three-month paid internship.

Andrew McBarnett, who co-founded Neale’s Sweet ‘n Nice along with aunt Rosemarie Wilson and Stafford Attzs, told strategy that in late 2019 that the ice-cream brand’s investor, Kingsdale CEO and Black North Initiative leader Wes Hall, recommended a rebranding so that it could be more marketable and better recognized at-shelf. Hall had previously worked with the Juniper team and a meeting was hatched. Trampoline emerged thereafter, following the death of George Floyd and the rise to public prominence of important discussions surrounding Black Lives Matter.

In those initial conversations with the agency, McBarnett shared stories of having immigrated from the Caribbean to Canada, bringing the brand that was created by McBarnett’s granddad Charles Neale in the 1940s in Trinidad and Tobago with them. 

The agency team took that origin story and created a humourous online video that puts the spotlight on he fact that “we didn’t fake our founder,” and which has been placed on digital and social channels, including TikTok, where Neale’s has about 125,000 followers.

The campaign is also making a push behind the “#BlackOwnedBusinesses” hashtag for other brands to share the stories of their own founders on social media.

On pack, founder Neale’s likeness has also been brought to life to amplify the origin messaging, and also includes a brief story about the founder. “Grandad is a bit more prominent on the packaging,” McBarnett notes of the rebrand. The new look, he says, is more welcoming, laidback and friendly, while the colour scheme retains its island aesthetic as the brand rolls out its new banana chocolate SKU. Le Parc, Juniper Park’s design division, worked on the rebranding side of the project.

COVID has accelerated digital online ordering, and Neale’s Sweet ‘n Nice is experimenting with format sizes and looking to bundle them into third-party delivery services. The brand will soon expand into Atlantic Canada and Quebec under the Loblaw banner and, McBarnett says, hopefully Sobeys as well.