The Blog and Pony Show

Schifino Lee - 8:45 pm May 16, 2011

how to sell designer ice cream

Posted in Advertising, Branding, Interactive, Print

Rachel would rather enjoy a Magnum than canoodle with Baptiste

Here’s a marketing challenge: make ice cream on a stick a super premium luxury product that size double-zero fashionistas will crave as much as Birken bags.

The solution:

  1. Hire Rachel Bilson, the unspeakably pretty (and skinny) actor/ model to be your spokesperson
  2. Retain uber designer and Chinese fan waver Karl Lagerfeld to make short films (web commercials) starring Rachel.
  3. Premier the resulting masterpieces at the coolest of all film festivals, Tribeca.

Now stand back as your brand goes viral and market share skyrockets thanks to the amazing, super cool, hyper stylized images that are not quite art, but not really marketing either.

But that’s not what the Unilever/ Lagerfeld/ Bilson collaboration has yielded. The great designer has delivered instead a very traditional (one might even say reactionary) campaign.

The print ad, shot by Lagerfeld, features Bilson holding her Magnum ice cream bar and smiling beatifically. Except for the photocredit—it’s ‘signed’ by Lagerfeld—this is a textbook ad. Rachel could be selling watches or perfume or dish washing liquid.

She can sell anything. Just insert your product.

The web spots are as pretty as their star. Very expensive with cinematic production values. Normally when an artist is retained for this sort of work the result is a provocative short film that flogs the brand passively through a brief placement.

Defying the norm, Lagerfeld goes all traditional mad man on us with the old “Problem—Solution” format. In “Art Class” Rachel is having a tough time drawing a bit of classical torso. She savors a Magnum ice cream treat and inspiration overwhelms her.

In “Photo Mood“, model Rachel is unable to click with her bitchy photographer (portrayed by Lagerfeld muse/ fiancé Baptiste Giabiconi) . But a sweet intervention by Magnum makes everything right and magic happens.

The third commercial film, “Applause” alters the formula. Ballerina Rachel is being overwhelmed by acclaim and adoration backstage, but all she wants is her Magnum bar (see above).

The trade press and blogs tell us the films were made in Paris and took a week. Their cost is not disclosed. So does Magnum get their money’s worth? Yes.

  • The spots are beautiful look at.
  • They establish and differntiate the brand memorably (if not all together believably).
  • And because Rachel is so clearly enjoying herself, the spots encourage trial.

As short films, the Magnum series does little to advance the art form. As commercials, they work. In addition to the series and print work, Magnum also got an art installation out of the design diva. Whether the “Chocolate Suite” is delicious or not I leave to you.

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