Potato Brand McCain Brings Back Stranger Things’ Barb for French Fry Day

By Kyle O'Brien 

The character of Barb got a raw deal. Not only was she unceremoniously killed off in the first season of Stranger Things, the show barely acknowledged her passing.

That led to a fan outcry, with #bringbackbarb trending on social media and campaigns and merchandise declaring “Justice for Barb.” While Barb never returned to the Upside Down nor Hawkins, the character is returning to the small screen—in an ad for McCain for National French Fry Day.

McCain is the largest producer of French fries, and the company wants people to know that every year, the earth loses 12 million hectares of farmable land due to erosion—roughly one soccer field every few seconds. A lack of farmable soil means that the future of potatoes, and fries, are at stake.


Thankfully, regenerative agriculture has the power to help bring this healthy soil back. So, on National French Fry Day, McCain is demonstrating the power of regenerative agriculture by showing the world that when we come together, we can bring anything back—even a beloved TV character who left us far too soon.

In the spot by Canadian agency Rethink, Shannon Purser, who played Barb on the series, is seen riding a tractor through a field. She states to the camera: “Sometimes when things go away, they never come back, like me,” as the #BringBackBarb hashtag appears.

Purser then explains how valuable farmland is lost but can be brought back through regenerative agriculture like McCain is committed to implementing on 100% of its potato acreage by 2030. Those practices include ensuring farm resilience, enhancing crop and ecosystem diversity, armoring soils, minimizing soil disturbance, reducing chemical impacts, optimizing water use, and integration of organic and livestock elements.

“Regenerative agriculture can be a pretty complex topic, and, if we’re being real, kind of dry. That’s why we decided to pique our audience’s interest by leveraging a beloved TV character, but in a way that makes a lot of sense conceptually.” says Cam Spires, creative director at Rethink.

The initiative is part of McCain’s ongoing efforts to raise consumer awareness about sustainability and regenerative agriculture.

“Sustainability has become an increasingly important consideration across all audiences—particularly among the younger generation, who have a growing passion and interest in protecting our environment,” said Tracy Hostetler, vice president, North American potato marketing at McCain Foods. “There’s a higher likelihood of creating positive change than ever before. It’s important to ensure that our sustainability initiatives connect with younger audiences. We want to continue encouraging sustainable practices in a way that resonates with them.”

Last year, McCain entered the metaverse with Regen Fries—fries made from regenerative potatoes—as part of its #SaveOurSoil initiative. Partnering with Roblox, McCain entered a space where younger audiences could begin to understand the challenges currently facing the farming community and the benefits of regenerative farming.

Creative and PR were handled by Rethink, while media was handled by UM Communications.