When skin cream meets ice cream

Oxy links its new volcanic ash scrub to a trendy treat to add more fun sampling to its typical campaigns.


It seems appropriate that an acne brand would “pop up” and Oxy is teaming up teaming up with a Toronto ice cream shop for an experiential giveaway to promote its latest product line.

For two Saturdays in August, the brand was at iHalo Krunch in the city’s trendy Queen West neighbourhood, where it will be  returning on Sept. 5 as well. The indie ice cream retailer launched a customized-to-Oxy, volcanic soft serve coconut charcoal flavour to pair with its new volcanic ash face scrub. Oxy is also extending the activation nationally on social by giving users a chance to win free ice cream and skin care products for the rest of the year.

Stacie Misener, senior marketing manager for Oxy parent company Mentholatum Company of Canada, says the brand has never done a pop up activation before, and that it wanted to target teens and young adults to experience a product innovation that both treats acne and is fun in a unique setting. iHalo is one of several ice cream shops in Toronto that have been using activated charcoal to make black ice cream and cones, a trend that has been both Instagram-friendly in recent years and offers a tie in with Oxy’s black volcanic ash acne scrub.

“Our goal with the activation was to deliver an experience that is fun and trendy and brings a smile to consumers’ faces,” Misener says. “We wanted to really highlight the key ingredient, the volcanic ash, a trend associated with detoxifiying, clarifying, while adding hydration and its functional benefits.”

OXY_iHalo InviteThe volcanic ash scrub went to retail in February, and Mentholatum had initially planned a 360-degree campaign with digital pre-roll, influencers and in-store, but its COVID pivot required it to readjust most of its creative and marketing to align messaging with all things at-home, Misener says. A lot of Oxy’s past campaigns have been spent on social, YouTube pre-roll and some in-store, but the brand wanted to supplement that with new opportunities to reach out to a demo that is often looking for a more personal touch from mainstream brands.

According to Misener, the brand has a volcanic ash display for back-to-school season, a high consumption period for its base SKUs and a key opportunity to reach young people with a new product. There is also secondary placement for shelf couponing and the brand is work on the possibility for shelf banner advertising as well.

When it comes to packaging design, Misener says the volcanic ash is the first stage of an approach it will adopt for its full product lineup line, capitalizing on a trend that consumers are become more educated about ingredients and look to get that information from a quick look at the package.

It comes down to which colour makes sense for aligning with the Oxy lineup, which also includes an emergency line is more medicinal in terms of packaging (white design) with higher benzoyl peroxide content. The Volcanic ash product is actually black, and Misener says it wanted to roughly match the packaging colour to the product itself. 

Online, Amazon is another key pillar where it is putting its investment, she says. While the acne sub-category was resilient duirng COVID, the sector is nonetheless highly competitive. According to Misener, consumers can find 10 well-known brands in the acne sector, and there are hundreds on Amazon, where challenger brands can more easily get placement.

“We have to stay focused on who we are and who we are targeting, and staying in the know and on-trend for what they’re looking for,” Misener says. It’s a lot about communicating product benefits and info about skin types simply and in a straightforward way.

Mentholatum worked with The Publicist Group on partnerships and activations.