Godzilla Vanilla, the I Scream Sandwich and "Why I Love Ice Cream" essays were just a few of the ingredients in this year's promotional recipes for National Ice Cream Month, held in July.
In the Charlotte, N.C., metropolitan area, both Harris Teeter, based there, and Winn-Dixie Stores, based in Jacksonville, Fla., did extensive promotions this summer.
Partnering with 10 YMCA summer camps, Harris Teeter sponsored a contest that asked kids to tell the retailer about their favorite ice cream or frozen dessert and why it should be kept in the supermarket.
The contest was held in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., area. Younger children were asked to make drawings, while the older ones wrote a paragraph or a formal letter.
Winners in each of three age groups from the participating YMCAs -- 30 children in all -- were invited to three stores Aug. 3 to build a tower of ice cream. This proved to be an attraction for the local media and got Harris Teeter on the five o'clock news, said Sonya Elam, spokeswoman for the chain. Some towers were up to a foot tall, and four winners were pictured in a Charlotte Observer ad Aug. 19, she said.
"[Summer] ice cream sales have just been wonderful, very healthy," said Bryan Nichols, frozens category manager for the 140-store Harris Teeter chain. He would not give specific sales figures for the month of July.
A month-long in-store promotion at all Harris Teeter stores, called "Sundae Construction Zone," featured colorful point-of-sale material promoting 10 frozen products along with nine grocery items. "We tried to tie the whole store together," said Nichols.
Harris Teeter set up wing displays, used static clings on the frozen doors and hung large colorful overhead signs in the frozens aisle that advised "Sundae Construction Zone." POS materials were bright yellow diamond-shaped warnings made to look like actual road-construction signs. Shelf talkers identified each product on special, such as toppings, syrups and nuts.
The grocery tie-in products were Joy ice cream cones, Betty Crocker ice cream toppings, Comstock/Thank You cherry pie filling, Duncan Hines brownie mix, Hershey's chocolate syrup, Cherryman jarred maraschino cherries, Planters nut topping, Solo party bowls and Smucker's sundae syrup.
Frozen products were Hunter All-Natural and Highland Crest ice cream, the chain's two private-label brands; Fruit a Freeze fruit bars; Popsicle Juice Pops and Junior Pops; Tropicana Orange Juice Bars; "TCBY" Nonfat Yogurt; Viennetta ice cream; Klondike ice cream bars; Dole Fruit'n Juice; and Luigi's Real Italian Ice.
Harris Teeter promotions during July also included a sweepstakes, with an Alaskan cruise as the grand prize and additional prizes of memberships to local YMCAs. Each purchase made with the frequent-shopper card generated a sweepstakes entry.
Winn-Dixie Stores' Charlotte division, with 141 stores, also sponsored a writing contest in July.
The retailer awarded 100 ice cream block parties worth $50 each to winners who described their favorite sundaes in 25 words or less, according to an industry source who did not wish to be identified.
Winn-Dixie also sponsored a Carolina Panthers Training Camp event for 25 disabled children at the football camp in Spartanburg July 29, the source said.
Players met the children after practice, with Winn-Dixie supplying bottled water, ice cream, novelties and T-shirts. Harold Green, advertising director for Winn-Dixie, did not return SN's telephone calls seeking comment.
Ice cream manufacturers also paid tribute to National Ice Cream Month. Godzilla the monster lent his claws to the ice cream case, creating a certain zing, said Jill Kasser, spokeswoman for Edy's and Dreyer's Grand, Oakland, Calif.
Edy's Godzilla Vanilla was promoted with the reptilian claws stuck to the freezer case at a variety of retailers, including Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y.; Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway's Northern division; and Tops Friendly Markets, Buffalo, N.Y., Kasser said. Also promoted as a summer novelty was the I Scream Sandwich from Edy's.
Smith Dairy, the Orrville, Ohio-based maker of Ruggles premium ice cream, introduced Ruggles New York Mets and New York Yankees ice creams in June in 80 units of Pathmark Stores. Four flavors -- Grand Slam Sunday, Triple Play Toffee, Killa Vanilla and Chocolate Monster -- are being sold exclusively at Carteret, N.J.-based Pathmark for one year, said Bill McCabe, director of marketing at Smith Dairy.
"There have been a lot of sales; there's quite a battle going on," McCabe said, referring to the July buy-one-get-one promotions, or two half-gallons for $5.
This year's July ice cream sales did not beat last year's statistics. One factor contributing to less than spectacular sales this year may have been brutally hot weather in parts of the nation. Really hot weather keeps people in their air-conditioned houses, according to Dick Newman, vice president of marketing at Good Humor-Breyers, Green Bay, Wis.
Ice cream sold in U.S. supermarkets at retail for the five weeks ended June 27 was 62,773,000 gallons, up 1.4% from the same period in 1997, according to Wendy McDavid, communications manager for the International Ice Cream Association, Washington. McDavid cited figures from ACNeilsen, Schaumburg, Ill.
The supermarket average retail price per gallon was $6.08 for June 1998, and for July it was $6.04, probably reflecting promotional activity, McDavid said. Both were down from the 1997 fourth-quarter average price of $6.17.
July showed total ice cream sales of 53,167,400 gallons for the four weeks ended July 25, again according to ACNeilsen, McDavid said. For the same four-week period last year 53,646,000 gallons were sold.