Ice cream partners offer cool QSR alternatives

In the increasingly crowded summer promo marketplace, it can be a chore to find an available QSR partner to help build some buzz for a youth brandlaunch, particularly since the two chains with the widest Canadian reaches - McDonald's and Burger King - fill their calendars with three-week kids' meal deals many months in advance.

In the increasingly crowded summer promo marketplace, it can be a chore to find an available QSR partner to help build some buzz for a youth brandlaunch, particularly since the two chains with the widest Canadian reaches – McDonald’s and Burger King – fill their calendars with three-week kids’ meal deals many months in advance.

But on the fringes of the QSR category are a couple of savvy ice cream chains ideally suited to summer initiatives. Baskin-Robbins and Dairy Queen are getting a lot of attention from entertainment players looking for alternative fast-food tie-in options.

This summer Dairy Queen is getting into the themed treat game with a special teen-targeted Scooby-Doo Mystery Crunch Blizzard flavour headlining its June 2002 promo for the Warner Bros. pic. The new flavour will be available for six weeks from May 27 in all of Canada’s 535 outlets, as well as in the U.S.

Another promo, which ran in Canada and the U.S. through April, invited consumers to buy one Blizzard and save 20 cents off a second, in celebration of the 20th anniversary re-launch of the E.T. movie. And in a non-movie related promo starting in May, Canadian ice cream fans will be able to buy a new Blizzard flavour, chocolate extreme.

‘We like to keep our promotions in line with those in the U.S. but we do adapt them for Canada,’ says Kylie Kliem, marketing co-ordinator for Burlington, Ont.-based Dairy Queen Canada. ‘We will be coming out with some interesting Canadian-specific Blizzard flavours later in the summer.’

Extensive TV advertising, created by Grey in the U.S, will begin airing in Canada in May to back the Scooby-Doo promo and new blizzard flavours.

And Baskin-Robbins is devoting its promo energies exclusively to Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, a DreamWorks film that’s set for a May 24 theatrical debut. The promo will run from the end of April until early July in 180 of Canada’s 200 outlets as well as in the U.S.

B-R is tying its product into the film’s central theme – the coming-of-age transformation of an innocent foal into a robust and bold stallion. A Spirit Swirl & Shake looks like an innocuous vanilla milkshake at the outset, but when you stir in some special chocolate cookie pieces, the shake changes into a vibrant blue or purple shade, and the flavour morphs from vanilla to cookies and cream. The vivid colors of the flick’s backdrop of U.S. national parks are also reflected in a Wild & Reckless Spirit flavour that is green, blue and purple in hue and features intense citrus flavors that jibe with Spirit’s personality.

The up-coming promo builds on last year’s big-league hit. Baskin-Robbins teamed up with DreamWorks for a Shrek promotion, which ran in roughly 2,400 Canadian and U.S. stores from mid-April to the end of August, featuring an array of unique ice cream treats including the kid-targeted Shrek Swirl sherbet, and the adult-skewing Shrekked Out Chocloate Mint. Shrek’s take on the chain’s traditional Free Scoop Night brought 3.5-million customers into U.S. stores in four hours on May 2 and earned the chain 10% to 12% gains in same-store sales.

Both Baskin-Robbins and Dairy Queen have also made significant strides in advertising in recent years so that they are now able to support their promos across North America with integrated TV, radio, print on-line and outdoor media. A string of TV ads developed with DreamWorks touted the reappearance of the Shrek treats when the movie launched on video this past November.

With files from Lucy Saddleton