A Sugar Cube's Rap Song Anchors Salty-Sweet Nutrition Campaign

Voiced by Darryl 'DMC' McDaniels

Sometimes the easy way to learn something is to create a song or make a game of it. Hip Hop Public Health (HHPH) did both in a campaign to educate kids about the countless names for sugar and steps to avoid it in excess.

"Lil Sugar" is a sugar cube who hides in plain sight under the guise of hundreds of different ingredient names so adults and kids won't realize he's lurking in more places than expected.

With an app, book and rap video, HHPH hopes to curb childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes, heart disease, chronic kidney disease and Covid-19, especially in Black and brown communities, where rates of illnesses are disproportionately higher.

"I admire the way they deal with health education for kids," says Thiago Fernandes, creative director at Area23, the agency that created the campaign. "HHPH brings kids in through culture and dance, fusing hip-hop into health education. We think we know how to find sugar, and we don't."

A two-minute video features Darryl McDaniels—DMC from Run-DMC—as the voice of Lil Sugar, rapping about hiding in unsuspecting foods and causing diabetes.

Lil Sugar | Master of Disguise

Some lyric highlights:

Sneak up in your body, just to get you hooked
I keep changing my name, it gets you to look 
So whenever you are hungry, imma be your friend
You keep craving for me to the very end
I give you diabetes from the treats and all the sweeties,
I keep you being greedy, make you think you really need me,
Play a game with your brain, as I'm bringing the pain,
You're not the same, there's a change, 'cause obesity came.

I've been hiding in the shadows,
From the kids and all the babies,
It's amazing, they go crazy
and the kids will always crave me
In the salad dressing, ice cream and the muffins too,
You can choose any topping and I'm there for you
Get your burgers and fries from burger land,
I'm the villain that's hiding in the soda can
Hide-and-seek, peek-a-boo, I made a fool of you,
It's true, I'm very proud of what I do to you,
I got 99 names and Lil Sugar is just one (Yeah)

The video ends with Lil Sugar trapped in an app as a voiceover explains: "Sugar can be disguised in many forms. Download the Lil Sugar app and expose them all."

A PDF download of an accompanying book is available with the app. In it, illustrations show Lil Sugar's many sides and countless names. Hard copies of the books are being printed by HHPH in the hopes to distribute them to schools as educational tools. 

Lil Sugar Book

"We want to keep evolving the app as new terms for sugar arise," Eduardo Tavares, creative director for craft and design at Area23, tells Muse. "The intention is to keep the character as a fixture of kids' culture. We're pushing it on social media but it's a space where we can evolve."

Like any evil nemesis, Lil Sugar has his own website and Instagram. 


Area 23, an IPG Health Company
Chief Creative Officer - Tim Hawkey 
Executive Creative Director – Elliot Langerman
Creative Team – Thiago Fernandes, Fabio Rodrigues, Eduardo Tavares, Arthur Daraujo, Widerson Souza, Connor Reilly, John Roberts, Angela Williams
Technology & Production
EVP, Director Integrated Production – Jennifer Ma
SVP, Director Technology – Bill Hanff
SVP, Group Director, Broadcast Production – Chinkara Singh
VP, Director Technology – Joel Herold
VP, Director Print Production – Frank Laport
Associate Director Technology – Aaron Stack
Senior Developer – Daniel Englert
Developer – Kary Huang
Senior UX Architect – Matt Piwowarsky
UX Architect – Peter Mylonas
Broadcast Producer – Michael Glennon
Executive Producer, Broadcast – Anna Lopez
EVP, Medical Director – Wolf Gallwitz, PhD
Medical Research – Aldacilene Souza da Silva, PhD
SVP, Editorial Director – Fritznel Loriston
Editors – Jason Marin, Pete Res, Cait Gallagher, Will Randick, Madeleine Disner, Aja Horowitz, 
Elisabeth Fetterman, Joanna Chlebus
Corporate Communications
Director, Corporate Communications – Chido Tsemunhu
Senior Corporate Communications Manager – Jessica Spano

Hip Hop Public Health
Founder & Board Chair – Dr Olajide Williams
Executive Director & CEO – Lori Rose Benson
Advisory Board Member/Music Performed by – Darryl DMC McDaniels
Board Member – Eric Pliner 
Chief Strategy Engagement Officer – Patrice Webb
Chief Programs Operation Officer – Lindsay Harr
Marketing Strategist – Mariam Bekele 
Chief Growth Advisor – Melinda Gould
Health Education Content Reviewers – Andrew Milne, Vanessa Sawyer
Composer, lyricist, producer – Q. Worthy (Blurred Vision)
Lyricist – BJ Gray (Blurred Vision) 
Advisory Board Member – Tony Drootin (Sound on Sound Studios)
Special Thanks – Erik Blamoville, Jonathan Bloom

Zombie Studios
Director – Paulo Garcia
Creative Director – Daniel Salles
Executive Producer – Nathalia Gouveia
Lead Art Director/Concept Art – Marcelo Garcia
Animation Producer – André Carvalho
CGI Lead – Claudio Junior
CGI Lead/Technical Director – Wallan Oliveira
CGI Lead/Technical Director – Isaac Buzzola
Storyboard & Animatic – Saulo Brito
Storyboard & Animatic – Gabriel São Marcos
Animation Director – Jonathan Souza
Concept Art – Feppa Rodriguez
Account – Stefanie Dias
Account – Stephanie Wang

Canja Audio Culture
Audio Director – Lucas Sfair
Audio Director – Eduardo Karas
Audio Director – Filipe Resende
Audio Director – Bruno Veira
Audio Producer – Pedro Souza
Audio Producer – Guilherme Moreno
Audio producer – Levy Mynssen
Studio Coordinator – Ana Flor
Voice Talent – Odwa Gulwa

CEO – Rodrigo Cassino
Head of Development – Renato Caetano
UX Designer & Motion Graphics – Samuel Callegari
UX Designer & Motion Graphics – Thayná Shimoda
Product Manager – Danielle Medeiros
Product Manager – Jessica Pacino

Asteroide Films
Executive & Creative Director – Guilherme Biglia
Creative & post Director – Giuliano Biondi
Producer – Amanda Ricciardi
Producer – Giulia Povezan
Editor – André Albuquerque
Art Director – Carlos Karan

CEO – Sid Fernandes

Finn Partners
Global Chief Diversity Officer – Helen Shelton 

Advertise With Us

Featured Clio Award Winner



The best in creativity delivered to your inbox every morning.