Splurging on ads isn’t enough on its own to guarantee growth. It has to be done at the right time, for the right product and in the right place; it also has to be backed with the right deals and POS activity. There’s a lot that could go wrong.

Get it right, of course, and ads can be a key contributor to growth, as many ice cream brands have proven in the past year. Ice cream’s top 10 advertisers have spent £9.3m, a rise of 30.7%, on ad space alone [Ebiquity 52 w/e 30 April 2014]. Add hefty production costs to this, and spend is huge.

This article is part of our Ice Cream Report 2014 .

Market leader Magnum has spent nearly twice as much as the rest of the top 10 combined (see below), running two campaigns – the first for its ‘Five Kisses’ range; the second celebrating the brand’s 25th anniversary – over the past year. 

  £ y-o-y% Cinema Outdoor Press Radio TV
Magnum 5,381,335 57.5% 3.5% 32.6% 1.5% 62.4%
Ben & Jerry’s Core 1,482,508 80.5% 35.8% 1.9% 62.3%
Kelly’s of Cornwall 1,067,358 47.9% 13.8% 86.2%
Haagen-Dazs Secret Sensations 473,683 –49.1% 1.4% 98.6%
Haagen-Dazs 438,293 339.7% 100.0%
Ben & Jerry’s Greek Style Frozen Yoghurt 196,744 92.9% 7.1%
Cornetto 155,982 80.1% 50.9% 49.1%
Wall’s 46,864 –95.8% 100.0%
Cadbury 37,862 307.2% 100.0%
Mars 24,469 112.8% 100.0%
TOTAL (Top 10) 9,305,098 30.7% 9.7% 19.7% 4.9% 0.1% 65.7%

While Ebiquity says the campaigns successfully targeted Magnum’s core audience (see below), creativity isn’t everything in advertising, particularly when it comes to ice cream, says Nicola Rolfe, Magnum brand manager at Unilever.

“Ice cream is an impulse category, especially throughout the summer months,” she says. “Our outdoor advertising is positioned close to stores to highlight our products and offerings to consumers as they are within the purchasing mind-set and store location.”

Hence the fact Magnum and Cornetto are the only major brands to have spent any significant cash on outdoor advertising in the past year. Tub brands, meanwhile, have spent the bulk of their budgets on TV.

For obvious reasons: with tubs primarily a planned  – as opposed to impulse – purchase, brands have been looking to put their products at the forefront of shoppers’ minds as they draw up their shopping lists for coming days.

Unilever, for example, has been driving sales of its ultra-premium Core range of Ben & Jerry’s tubs partly with an integrated TV and social media campaign, as it ramped up spend on the range by 80.5% and scaled backed ad spend on the standard Ben & Jerry’s line-up. 

Third biggest spending brand was R&R’s Kelly’s of Cornwall, which increased spend by 48%, focusing on TV ads highlighting its Cornish heritage and positioning the ice cream as the perfect accompaniment to summer dining with the family.

However, Kelly’s has suffered over the past year, proving that ads are only part of the equation. See here for some of the reasons why.

Creative challenge: we asked Ebiquity analyst Lauren Fitzgerald to weigh up the creative worth of the top three spenders’ ads.


Magnum’s advertising expenditure increased 56% YOY with TV being the most dominant media in terms of spend. The brand unveiled two large television campaigns over the past year reflecting this trend, the first of which promoted the launch of its new “Five Kisses” range, with glamorous and chic creative reflecting this French patisserie-inspired product range.

The second campaign celebrated the brand’s 25th anniversary, pushing the brand’s hero classic chocolate flavour with undertones of pleasure and indulgence targeting a core female audience.

Ben & Jerry’s Core

Advertising spend for Ben & Jerry’s Core increased by 80% YOY, with TV taking the lion’s share of spend at 62%. The brand continued to communicate its fun yet unconventional personality through a TV campaign promoting its “Karamel Sutra” Core variant, with emphasis placed upon the core Caramel ingredient.

The ad invited social interaction, encouraging fans to submit their own “Core Flavour” via Twitter. Print creative promoted two other “Core” variants, “Peanut Butter Me Up” and “Blondie Brownie”, with messaging connoting notions of enchantment and delight.

Kelly’s of Cornwall

Media spend for Kelly’s of Cornwall saw an increase of 48% YOY with TV dominating the choice of media. The brand’s long-standing Cornish heritage and distinctive flavouring dominated messaging seen in TV creative, which positioned the ice cream as the perfect accompaniment to summer dining with the family.

Print communications in the form of advertorials were also seen in Sunday supplement magazines, again drawing upon notions of heritage alongside spring/summer fun and indulgence. 

This article is part of our Ice Cream Report 2014 .

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