Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones Reunite to Remake Fairy Tales for Pure Leaf Tea

Jones directs her former co-star as DDB celebrates being disagreeable

Amy Poehler holds a Rapunzel doll while narrating a fairy tale
Amy Poehler narrates more empowered versions of fairy tales in Pure Leaf's new campaign, "No Is Beautiful." Pure Leaf
Headshot of T.L. Stanley

In these reimagined fairy tales, the princess refuses to hop onto a towering stack of mattresses to prove her royal lineage, Rapunzel gives herself a pixie makeover and Gretel logs a 40,000-step day by avoiding a creepy candy shack.

The reworked stories, told by actress-comedian Amy Poehler, show what would’ve happened if these fictional characters had dug in their heels in various classic scenarios. “The moral of the story is: You don’t always have to be agreeable,” says Poehler in a new digital content series from IPG’s Golin for PepsiCo’s Pure Leaf.

The video shorts, directed by Poehler’s friend and former Parks and Recreation co-star Rashida Jones, are part of what the brand is calling its “first purpose-driven campaign,” dubbed “No is Beautiful.”

It’s a departure in tone and strategy for Pure Leaf, which has spent the past five-plus years “building the brand around a functional message,” said Katrina McDonald, senior director, Pepsi Lipton Partnership. Like many marketers in the CPG category and beyond, execs want to “engage our consumers in an emotional way.”

The campaign, which includes TV, out-of-home, print, in-store and social media extensions from DDB, reflects the product’s minimal ingredients (no artificial flavors or sweeteners; no tea powders or concentrates) and an insight into busy, overcommitted consumers.

A research project with Ipsos found that 70% of those surveyed feel pressured to say “yes” in their personal and professional lives, and they’re stressed out as a result, per the brand. Most of the women, 85%, say that taking on too many tasks negatively affects their quality of life, and 86% agreed that saying “no” to undesirable requests would feel liberating.

Pure Leaf latched onto those findings and plans to use the new “No is Beautiful” platform to build a broad, multi-year effort, beginning this month.

“Saying no isn’t all that easy, especially for our core consumer,” McDonald said. “Our goal was to highlight the beauty and power of saying no and to show that it gives you more time to say yes and do the things you want to do.”

DDB helped recruit Poehler, who’s also a writer, producer and director with a 2014 bestselling autobiography called, ironically, “Yes Please.” (She clarifies her position in the book itself: “Saying ‘yes’ doesn’t meant I don’t know how to say no, and saying ‘please’ doesn’t mean I am waiting for permission.”)

Poehler, in fact, has talked publicly about how doors have opened for her when she grasped the power of “no,” especially in her career. She provides the voiceover for the Pure Leaf TV spots, while starring in the “Once Upon a No” digital shorts to which she and Jones added their creative touches.

While putting Poehler in an armchair to read from a giant story book may be a familiar trope, the rest of the content is charmingly fresh, particularly the SNL veteran’s interaction with her tiny props.

“It would’ve been a mistake for us to give them a script,” McDonald said. “It was a complete collaboration, and the funniest moments are when they bring in their own elements.”

The marketing push, which coincides with an intro of the first Pure Leaf cold brew product and new herbal flavors in the core line, will fan out over Good Morning America today (marking National Fairy Tale Day), experiential activations in Times Square and a partnership with Fair Play author Eve Rodsky that will give tips for time management and setting priorities. 

“We were inspired by the fact that what makes Pure Leaf so good isn’t just what they put into the tea, but what they leave out of it,” said DDB co-chief creative officer Lisa Topol. “Saying ‘no’ is a refreshing decision. And it’s clear that the same philosophy that makes tea better makes life better too.”

@TLStanleyLA T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.