It’s not often you get your best idea for a campaign before you’ve even pitched the account, but that’s what happened when HB Ice Cream asked Creative Solutions to drop by to take a brief one day last summer.
HB Ice Cream is particularly popular in Ireland, and as a country we’re one of the largest consumers per capita in Europe. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that as we made our way to the briefing session we started to talk about what HB meant to us. One colleague casually informed us that HB had once been responsible for persuading him to move as a boy. As a child, he’d been less than enamored when his parents informed him the family would be moving away from his friends to another area of Dublin. That was until his mother informed him that the new house was down the road from HB.
Imagining a Willy Wonka-esque world right down the street, he quickly acquiesced, forgot his friends, and was lured across town on the promise of bottomless ice cream vats at his doorsteps. This was a potent story, but before any of us could possibly trump it, we were at HB.
HB products were practically jumping out of the freezer during the summer; the period accounted for 70 percent of the brand’s sales. But once the weather cooled, sales declined. Our brief was to devise a promotion to extend the popularity of the product into September and October. Because the most obvious solution involved tampering with the Irish weather to turn the country into a kind of Celtic Florida, we knew we had a problem on our hands.
Then we thought back to our earlier conversation. If the prospect of living down the road from the HB factory could induce somebody to up his roots and bid farewell to his school friends with barely a regret, we were dealing with a potent brand indeed. We decided the answer to our challenge would be through an emotional appeal. So we sought out the rest of our agency colleagues and bombarded them with questions about HB and its relevance to their lives, both now and in the past.
What followed was a revelation. We discovered particular ice creams that were forever associated with childhood weekend drives to the seaside; learned about ice pops that had been religiously dispensed by visiting grandparents every Sunday; and heard tales of eating rituals so strange they had to be true. It seemed that everybody felt a connection with HB. This was borne out when everybody passionately argued that their favorite HB ice cream was the best. Now we were onto something. We decided our promotion would be a competition designed to find out what Ireland’s favorite HB product was.
Given the Irish love for a good argument, we felt this was a tactic that would get people talking about HB (and more importantly, buying HB) long after the summer months. Like any important issue, we needed a democratic vote to decide the country’s favorite HB ice cream. We called it the HB Election and it gave us the opportunity to use all the materials commonly found at polling booths – posters, badges, election slips, and rosettes – for our promotional point-of-sale displays.
Like any good political party, we offered voters an inducement to vote. One voter and four friends won a fact-finding trip to Austria as Ireland’s Minister of Ice Cream. As we hoped, the HB Election became a talking point among consumers. The number of votes we received was heartening and showed that we had managed to strike a chord with ice cream-lovers.