Ben & Jerry's Puts Fans in Charge of Summer Scoop Tour Using Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare

By Mitra Sorrells June 21, 2011, 1:31 PM EDT

Photo: Courtesy of Gigunda Group

Ben & Jerry's Summer Scoop Truck Tour
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Ben & Jerry’s dished out about 16,000 cups of free Bonnaroo Buzz, Late Night Snack, and other flavors of its ice cream—and gained more than 2,000 new Twitter followers—during its Summer Scoop Truck Tour in Miami from May 2 to June 10. The program, managed by Gigunda Group, invited the brand’s fans on Twitter and Facebook to help determine where the truck would stop each day, with the goal of raising the brand’s profile in the Miami market and attracting new customers.
“We’ve done regional sampling programs often over our 30-year history. This wasn’t anything new to us. But the shift was from saying, ‘OK, we are here, come get ice cream,’ to asking people, ‘Where do you want us to go?’” said Jay Curley, Ben & Jerry’s manager of integrated marketing. “It’s much more engaging to be open to what our fans want versus just looking at a calendar and saying, 'This event would be a good one for us to stop at.'”

Most of the truck’s stops were determined by requests that came in to the @BenJerrysTruck Twitter account. Gigunda account coordinator Alex Miniak said along with considering geographical feasibility, they looked for requests that came from “influencers who have a lot of followers and could retweet us.” The company was able to respond to requests in a matter of minutes, and often could send the truck to the requested locations that same day, handing out anywhere from 50 to 500 samples of ice cream at each stop.  

In addition to requested stops, the truck also made appearances at Miami retailers and community events during the six-week tour. At each stop, the brand ambassadors in the truck announced their location through geotargeted status updates on Facebook and also Foursquare check-ins, which were linked to the tour’s Twitter account. The company also uploaded photos of the daily giveaways to its Flickr photo stream and encouraged fans to do the same. Edelman Digital managed the social media integration of the tour.  

“We can push out photos to say, “Look at this happy person with our ice cream,' but when it comes from their peers, it’s much more valuable,” said Curley.

The Miami truck has now moved on to New York and in August will head to Boston. Those are the two cities where Ben & Jerry’s debuted the sampling-on-demand concept last summer in celebration of the 25th anniversary of New York Super Fudge Chunk. Curley said consumer response was much better than expected, prompting them to add Miami to the East Coast tour and also to create a second scoop truck that visited Los Angeles and is now in San Francisco.

Last year’s two-city tour resulted in 28 million impressions in traditional media and more than 15 million through Twitter.

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