The scoop on Baskin-Robbins’ deal with Netflix

The chain teamed up with the streaming service to turn its store into a Scoops Ahoy ice cream parlour from Stranger Things.

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Baskin-Robbins Canada is hoping Gen Zers will not only be screaming at Stranger Things’ third season twists and turns, but for more of its ice cream this summer thanks to a partnership with Netflix.

The popular streaming service initially approached Baskin-Robbins in the U.S. about temporarily turning its mall stores into Scoops Ahoy shops, which features prominently in the latest season of the show that takes place in the 1980s. The series often features teens working and hanging out at the mall, including at the fictional nautical-themed ice cream parlour.

Baskin-Robbins was founded in 1945 in California and opened its first Canadian store in 1971. Today, it’s the world’s largest chain of ice cream specialty stores and serves more than 300 million customers each year via its more than 8,000 shops in 54 countries around the globe.

“Stranger Things fans are superfans, but not necessarily our customers because Baskin Robbins has been around for almost 80 years or so… so [many] of our customers view Baskin-Robbins as a place of nostalgia,” says Natalie Joseph, field marketing manager at Baskin-Robbins Canada. “It’s a place where their parents took them when they had good grades or when they had a winning game. So there’s a lot of history, which is fantastic, and tapping into the new generation was absolutely a venture [the brand wanted] to align with.”

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The field marketing manager adds that Stranger Things has raised awareness of the brand among those who were born well after 1984, when the latest season of the show is set, a.k.a. Gen Z who are generally defined as those born in 1995 or later.

Since the early ‘70s when Baskin Robbins first launched in the Great White North a series of new competitors have emerged among Canadians looking for a cold treat during the summer months. There’s direct competition from the likes of Dairy Queen, but also from most fast-food giants such as McDonald’s with its ice cream cones and McFlurrys, while Starbucks has its popular Frappuccinos and Tim Horton’s has Ice Capps.

The Stranger Things partnership is an opportunity to stand out from the crowd during the crucial summer months, notes Joseph.

One of the main tasks for the Baskin-Robbins Canada team was finding the right store to temporarily transform into a Scoops Ahoy shop. The Woodbine Mall location, in Etobicoke, Ont., ended up being the only Canadian location that was transformed since it’s in a mall in the populous Greater Toronto Area. In addition, the majority of the brand’s 102 Canadian stores are offering a Stranger Things-themed “flavour of the month” – U.S.S. Butterscotch, along with five in-store treats and four themed to-go containers this July. And almost 100 of the Canadian stores also sold a Funko figure in the shape of Steve Harrington, a Stranger Things character holding his very own sundae (which almost immediately sold out, says Joseph), as well as ’80s-inspired magnets and stickers.

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On the day of the opening of the Scoops Ahoy shop at Woodbine, which was timed to the release date of season three of the cult show on July 4, young people lined up outside the store to get one of the prize packs, which was handed out to the first 31 customers (in a nod to the ice cream chain’s famous 31 flavours), says Joseph. The partnership garnered global media attention from outlets including Eater, Vox, Bustle and BuzzFeed in the U.S., as well as the Toronto Sun and blogTO here in Canada.

Baskin-Robbins Canada worked with Torchia Communications on PR, Initiative on OOH ads in Woodbine Mall promoting the Scoops Ahoy shop, while Reprise Digital handled all paid media strategy behind the campaign and 2Social handled the organic side. This is the first time Baskin-Robbins Canada has participated in a partnership with Netflix.

“This has been a phenomenal campaign for us, [because of] the exposure,” says Joseph. “The guests that are coming into our doors… [our franchisees] have never seen these people before, it’s definitely drawing people in.”

Clarification: Reprise Digital handled all paid media strategy behind the campaign and 2Social handled the organic side, also the OOH ads were inside Woodbine Mall.