George Clooney has Casamigos. Diddy has Ciroc. Angelina Jolie as a rosé brand and now, Vanilla Ice has solidified his beverage legacy: a spiked and no-proof energy drinks.
The flavor? Well, I don’t need to tell you: it’s vanilla ice.
The “Ice, Ice, Baby” rapper, whose real name is Robert Van Winkle, launched the product in partnership with Canadian energy drink brand Joyburst. In addition to Vanilla Ice’s namesake flavor, the naturally-caffeinated, plant-based energy drinks are also available in elderberry, frosé, grape, lime and peach treatments.
“I like creative control,” Van Winkle told me during the Toronto launch. “I want to let the juices flow during projects. Joyburst allowed me to come into this project and design the can, the flavor — everything.”
Every part of the brand, from the tune to the label, leans heavily into 90’s nostalgia. (Apt, considering Van Winkle was one of the kings of the decade). Cans are glowing blue with neon pink graffiti announcing the flavors, drinks are neon-hued, and the namesake single accompanying the launch finds Van Winkle and Joyburst CEO Brad Woodgate shoot hoops in front of lava lamps and cruise in a 90’s mustang, all while wearing shimmering silver sweatsuits.
I bring the good vibes when I do my joy walk, the song buzzes. “It has the perfect amount of catchiness,” says Van Winkle. “We’ve been going around just singing it because it really gets stuck in your head.”
“I wanted to make the product feel like the 90’s in a can,” said Van Winkle. “I want drinkers to relive the era! I want to give people a little pep in their step, get out their front door, live their life and be successful because we all need a little energy to tackle things.”
“The brand is called Joyburst for a reason,” Woodgate continues. “We want you to experience that nostalgia.”
The partnership was born when Woodgate’s team tossed around potential names for future collaborations. “When it came to creating a campaign, I thought: who was someone I would really vibe with?” explains Woodgate. “We tossed out a few names, then one of my team members mentioned Van Winkle. Are you kidding me? I am a huge fan of Vanilla. I’m 44, so I was there when he brought hip hop into the mainstream for us. ‘Ice, Ice Baby’ is an anthem.”
“When we met,” he continues, “I wanted to see if we got along, because he wouldn’t be just a brand ambassador – his name is on the product! I went to his house, and we just developed a friendship from there.”
You can tell the two are close. They laugh in step and finish each other’s sentences. “I’m from the business world, so walking the red carpet and performing in front of people,” describes Woodgate. “Rob has made it so comfortable and easy.”
Van Winkle immediately turned to Woodgate: “You’ve got a great energy about you, and it’s very inspiring. You have that energy, that push, and that drive, and a lot of characteristics that I see in myself. We need those qualities to sprinkle that fairy dust on whatever we’re doing. I appreciate this opportunity and the freedom to create this product the way we want.”
Joyburst is based in Toronto, Canada and is a sister brand of No Sugar Company, a brand focusing on sans-sugar energy bars and snacks.
While the celebrity drink space is saturated — the number of actor-backed rum brands and model-slung roses surpasses 80 – Joyburst is jovial, capturing both Woodgate and Van Winkle’s love of nostalgia.
“Projects like these are all corporate until you meet the people and you gel and become real friends,” says Ice. “All of a sudden, it becomes fun. We’re going to set the world on fire with this fun. It’s an all-day, party seltzer. We give you that energy drink to get you through the day and get your work done, and the party seltzer for the night.”