Ben and Jerry continues its tasty marketing reign of excellence with a new campaign that allows customers in target cities to crowdsource its newest limited-edition flavors. In 360i’s first campaign for the ice cream company, the new flavors for each city will be determined by crowd behavior as much as voting on microsites. As part of the “City Churned” campaign, New Yorkers taking cabs uptown will be voting for Peppermint while downtown cab fares will count as votes for Fairtrade Vanilla. In Washington D.C., Red Line and Orange Line ridership and jogging lanes will count as votes for either Cherries or Fairtrade Bananas. Seattlites will choose flavors by coffee sleeves, of course. And Portland’s flavor decision between Marshmallows and Graham Crackers will be determined by facial hair styles…which seems somehow unsanitary.
There may be some risk, as you might have a few irate New Yorkers who will resent the brand for having them vote for Peppermint when really they’re just trying to take a cab home and they’ve always hated Peppermint. (Think of how you’d feel if you were told you were voting for your least favorite food flavor.) But really, it’s just another nice move by an ice cream company that can do no wrong when it comes to its branding.
Think about it. Ben and Jerry’s shot to fame with a hippie ethos, yet its reputation survived being sold to mega-food corporation Unilever in 2000. Many foodies may think of Unilever as the evil empire, yet a Google search of “Ben and Jerry’s” and “fake” will only turn up hilarious lists of fake flavors. That’s because the company and its founders have been making all the right moves, from being risqué with a flavor name to capitalize on a SNL skit to mixing it up with the Occupy movement. It appears as though 360i will be continuing the good work of the marketers that came before them, who turned a funky Vermont ice cream company into a golden goose.