Häagen-Dazs Dips Into Net With Game for New Sundae

Häagen-Dazs for the first time is using an online game not only to launch a product but also to encourage better participation from its franchisees.

The Minneapolis company has introduced a new Banana Split Dazzler sundae with a summertime promotion at haagen-dazs.com/dazzler called the “Discover the Dazzler Frozen Dessert Online Game.” Nearly 200 of the 225 Häagen-Dazs stores are participating.

“Since we're a franchised system, all of our shops are independently owned and operated, so we wanted to generate excitement among our franchisees to support the new product,” said Kelly Wold, marketing manager of Häagen-Dazs Shop Company Inc., a Pillsbury Co. subsidiary.

Häagen-Dazs wanted “to make sure that their crew is pumped up for the summer and remind them that they're working with a marketing department that does do innovative activities,” she said. “We're not just always sending up posters and things that traditional franchised companies would do.”

The $5 Banana Split Dazzler is a three-scoop sundae in a portable container. It has vanilla ice cream layered with strawberry, pineapple and fudge toppings and rounded off with whipped cream and a cherry.

Top giveaways in the online promotion are a three-year lease on a 2001 Jaguar XK8 convertible car, five $5,000 shopping sprees, 500 prizes of free ice cream for a year through 52 books of five $1 certificates and 2,299,494 gift certificates for a free Dazzler sundae.

In all, total prizes available to be won are valued at $11,708,470.

To play, consumers buy an ice cream product at a participating Häagen-Dazs store. They then get a game card with a unique personal identification number. (A no-purchase mail-in option is also available.) With this PIN, consumers go to haagen-dazs.com/dazzler and play a scratch-and-win game. To win, players must match three of the nine Dazzler frozen dessert icons. Open to consumers 18 and older, the promotion runs through Aug. 31.

“From a consumer standpoint, we wanted to make sure that we were keeping our image fresh and innovative to our loyal customers [and] also driving excitement behind this new product,” Wold said.

But a lot hinges on compliance at the field level.

“That's usually the biggest challenge, to make sure that the crew worker behind the counter actually is handing the game card out to every person that comes in,” she said. “It's a huge challenge that's out of our control, so we really have to get the sell-in from our individual shops to make it a success.”

CRC Marketing Solutions, Minneapolis, is Häagen-Dazs' agency on the account. It created the concept and handles the pertinent Web pages, game cards and in-store point-of-sale promotional materials.

Häagen-Dazs is supporting the online game and new product with a one-time, free-standing insert in The New York Times and in-store kits that include counter card, menu-board signage, banners and posters for malls.

Wold said that cost was not a primary factor for the Internet's choice as a key marketing vehicle for the new sundae.

“I can't necessarily say that if we would have made a scratch-and-win game versus the Internet component to it, it would have been any less expensive,” she said. “Probably the printing of the scratch-off, that's pretty expensive, so I'm not sure if it ended up being cheaper or more expensive.”

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