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Carvel Sets Fudgie the Whale to Mobile Marketing

By May 12, 2008

Giving a new meaning to the phrase “whale calls,” ice cream retailer Carvel will now let mobile phone users send text messages to company spokesmammal Fudgie the Whale and receive in return a coupon for a blended coffee drink and a chance to win a 42-inch TV.

Cell phone users who text “FUDGIE” to short code 78247 through July 31 will get a coupon for one of Carvel’s new Arctic Blender drinks. Added to the chain’s menu in early April, the three new Blender beverages are made with Carvel ice cream in Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter and Fried Ice Cream flavors. They were joined by three coffee-flavored Freeze blended drinks.

Consumers who text in will also be directed to www.carvel.com, where they can enter the “Carvel Arctic Summer Sweepstakes” by playing an online matching game. Prizes include laptops, MP3 players and cash awards of $1,000 or $250. Two grand-prize winners will receive tech gear, including a 50-inch flat screen TV and a home theater system.

In addition, both mobile and online entrants will qualify for an instant-win game that offers one of five 24-inch TVs as a prize. Contestants can enter both games once a day during the run of the sweepstakes.

Carvel launched the new Arctic Blender and Freeze beverages with a “happy hour” promotion on May 1 in which many of its 500 franchised stores gave away free eight-ounce samples from 4 to 6 p.m. Carvel said before the promotion that it expected to give away 20,000 samples.

Fudgie the Whale began life in 1976 as one of the ice-cream cake molds sold by Carvel stores and pitched on TV around its Northeast market by gravel-voiced founder Tom Carvel. Last year Fudgie was elevated to company spokeswhale and given his own MySpace page and blog, which now holds half a dozen videos and about 1,100 friends.

“We have done a great job connecting with a new demographic with some of our online efforts including MySpace and Facebook,” Carvel Ice Cream President Gary Bales said in a statement. “Our consumers have been able to get engaged with the brand and get to know a different side of Fudgie the Whale—a side that is slightly more quick-witted and irreverent—with some of these online vehicles. Mobile marketing seemed like a logical next step in connecting with our younger, more tech-savvy consumers.”

Fudgie won the spot as company icon last year despite heavy competition from Cookie Puss, an extra-terrestrial Carvel confection immortalized in a Beastie Boys song back in 1983.

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