Every summer, Baskin-Robbins faces the same challenge: getting its broad customer base back into the ice cream mindset after a long, cold winter. But the annual task was made easier last year, with the chain’s entertainment marketing agent Norm Marshall latching onto the mid-May box office debut of Shrek to heat things up.
‘High-profile film tie-ins work and are particularly attractive to kids and families,’ says CEO Norm Marshall. But they also allow Baskin-Robbins to do what it does best – create unique products that appeal to kids and draw them into stores. The ice cream chain developed two new flavors – Shrek Swirl, a green and purple swirled sherbet with popping candies; and Shrek’d-Out Chocolate Mint, which featured goo-filled chocolate characters. Specialty treats included Shrek’s Hot Sludge Sundae and Shrek Swamp Fizz, both of which required kids to stir in special additives to ‘transform’ the product – tying in nicely with the movie’s metamorphosis theme.
In-store, the green hero couldn’t be missed. A six-foot standee of Shrek, featuring the new sundae product, encouraged customers to ‘Shrek it out!’ A window poster, flavor decals, counter cards and a translite that illustrated how to make the Swamp Fizz were also in-store. Two 15-second TV spots, created by Chicago’s Vitro-Robertson, played up the film’s fun quotient. ‘Donkey Fizz’ showed Shrek’s sidekick changing color while drinking Swamp Fizz, and ‘Donkey Sundae’ featured the same silly character eating Shrek’s sundae. Local programs in the top 30 markets featured radio contests for tickets to the film and various prizes, including free samples and ice cream for a year. Baskin-Robbins also decided to tie in the relaunch of its website, where users could find the closest store in their area hosting a free ice cream night.
Comparisons to 2000 figures for the months of May and June revealed that same-store sales rose 9.4% and 8.3% respectively – the largest increase Baskin-Robbins had experienced in almost 20 years, according to director of marketing Joe Adney. The early-May free scoop night drew in 3.5 million customers – a 17% increase over 2000 figures – even though the company had shaved an hour off the event’s duration. Baskin-Robbins’ new website, meanwhile, was the seventh most visited new site in the U.S. for the month of April, drawing in nearly one million unique visitors.