Ben & Jerry’s Upside Down Truck Stops Traffic
Leave it to Ben & Jerry’s to turn the ordinary upside down. The Vermont-based brand known for its eclectic and delicious ice cream combinations stepped up its surprise factor during its 2009 summer tour with a vehicle that stopped traffic wherever it went.
To generate awareness and trial for its new Flipped Out sundae, which comes in a cup with a bottom layer of fudge, ice cream and brownies, and once flipped over turns into a single-serve sundae, last June the company wowed young urban professionals in Brooklyn, NY, Michigan, Philadelphia, Portland, OR, San Francisco, Seattle and its home state of Vermont with a branded truck built to look like one upside down truck stacked on top of another. At fairs, festivals and parks across the country, the brand used its one-of-a-kind Flipped Out truck as a backdrop for four-day sampling events in each market where it spent two days (Thursday, Friday) near the business hubs of each city, and two days (Saturday, Sunday) in tourist districts and parks.
The objective of the truck design was to capture the attention of target consumers in transit. And how could it not? It featured a set of tires shooting up 13 feet into the air, authentic truck smokestacks and radio antennae pointing at the pavement, and fuel tanks, headlights and chrome grilles mounted 10 feet above ground. The truck was created out of a standard 16-foot box truck that was customized using an aluminum façade and a number of vehicle accents and materials designed to create the inverted cab’s realistic look, like exhaust stacks, windshield wipers, truck lighting and tires.
Inside were four box freezers packed with the product for distribution; one rolling 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.
The brand distributed 40,000 samples over the course of the campaign, administered coupons for free sundaes at participating retailers and handed out premiums, which allowed the brand to track redemption, points of purchase and sales volume. The brand also achieved important viral value by creating a touring vehicle that was so visually arresting that passersby couldn’t help but line up to snap their photos in front of it and then pass along the photos to their friends. Just like the message on the side of the truck says, “Upside-down never tasted so right-side up!”