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M&Ms and Ben & Jerry’s Take Trucks to the Next Level

Want to keep your mobile tour fresh but don’t have the cash for a refurb? How about focusing on the area outside the 18-wheeler? Exterior event structures like tents, awnings, furniture and inflatable domes, and other interactive add-ons like rock-climbing walls can create a more spacious and fun environment around a vehicle that can revamp a tour without breaking the bank.

When M&M’S ice cream hit the road last July for its second summer sampling tour, visiting family-oriented events in the Midwest and West Coast markets, it created an ice cream café environment with pop-up tents, tables and chairs where consumers could sit and enjoy their decadent treats. The tour traveled in a 26-foot refrigerated truck and cargo van and handed out samples from branded ice cream carts. The arrangement was an improvement on the complicated footprint from its first year when it had an ice cream parlor fabricated from a concession trailer that required a tow trailer. By having a more nimble rig and exterior furniture that could easily be set up and taken down, it could hit more events and distribute more ice cream. The new approach not only provided a spacious environment for consumers, but also cut down on the number of vehicles and props that had to be moved from one place to the next, keeping down costs. By the end of the tour, the brand gave away 900,000 samples (Ion Marketing, New York City, handled). 

Ben & Jerry’s took a similar approach to promote its new Flipped Out sundae, which comes in a cup with a bottom layer of fudge, ice cream and brownies, and once flipped over onto a plate turns into a single-serve sundae. Last June, the company targeted young urban professionals in Brooklyn, NY, Michigan, Philadelphia, Portland, OR, San Francisco, Seattle and its home state of Vermont by wowing them with a branded truck built to look as if it was upside down. The 16-foot vehicle functioned as a buzz builder for the sampling event as it rode through town, and once stopped, became the event’s backdrop. Inside were box freezers packed with the product for distribution; one freezer was removable to make it easy to transport ice cream to consumers. Around the truck, Ben & Jerry’s set up two branded tents, tables and chairs to create a café environment where consumers could sample the sundae. It also created market-specific landscape backdrops (upside down, of course) where photo activations were held. The photos were retrievable on Facebook (Builder: Turtle Transit, Lancaster, MA).

“By expanding our footprint beyond the vehicle, we allowed our fans to relax and enjoy their ice cream and created an environment that drew in additional people,” says Jay Curley, integrated marketing manager at Ben & Jerry’s.

In many cases, brands use one mobile vehicle to promote several programs and product lines. Wrigley’s has been doing it since 2007 when the Planeta Wrigley mobile vehicle hit the road to connect with Hispanics at large festivals and retailers throughout the country.

The multifaceted vehicle has a second level that turns into a stage on which the brand has featured everything from an Orbit and Eclipse gum-scented oxygen bar to a massage parlor where consumers received a massage while chewing gum. Beyond the vehicle, the company has added sports zones inside inflatable domes to play up its sports sponsorships as well as, more recently, a rock climbing wall and a euro bungy experience.

Flexible exterior pieces also allow brands to customize the experience based on its location. For example, once in market, Wrigley’s can select one or two pieces from the kit to create a small footprint at a local retailer before its large-scale activation at a nearby festival (Agency: Cardenas Marketing Network, Chicago; Builder: Craftsmen Industries, St. Charles, MO).

This strategy helps Wrigley’s keep its mobile marketing costs down because it can lease some of the pieces and reuse others for different products. And because of the fun add-on structures that refresh the experience, this year marks Planeta Wrigley’s fourth consecutive national tour targeting Hispanics.
“When you have success for these many years, you want to expand it and continue a concept that works,” says Bernardo Meza, senior marketing manager-U.S. consumer marketing-multicultural at Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company. Right on brother!  EM

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