Haagen-Dazs taps Pharrell Williams and millennials for global ad campaign

Saatchi & Saatchi London gives the ice cream brand a youthful vibe in a new spot titled "Everyday Made Extraordinary."

Haagen-Dazs taps Pharrell Williams and millennials for global ad campaign

For years, Haagen-Dazs marketed itself as a luxury product so successfully that many forgot about the ice cream’s humble roots in the Bronx, New York. The General Mills-owned brand used beautiful women and Bradley Cooper to create this adult, aspirational image and adhered to it for years, despite declining sales.

But that all changed in May when Haagen-Dazs rebranded. The marketer adopted a new tagline, "Everyday Made Extraordinary," and ditched its black and gold color palette for a burgundy hue. It also tapped 50 artists worldwide to design bespoke art for each flavor. The goal was to become "iconic again," said Haagen-Dazs UK and northern Europe marketing lead Arjoon Bose, by becoming less stuffy, and to increase sales.

Today, Haagen-Dazs premieres the video element to this brand refresh. From Saatchi & Saatchi London, the spot still features attractive actors. Only this time, they’re playful—not sexual—dancing to Pharrell Williams’ "Come Get It Bae." This is an attempt to appeal to a millennial audience, said Haagen-Dazs’s Jennifer Jorgensen. The Global VP and Marketing Director met with Campaign US at the General Mills Investor Day in the New York Stock Exchange.

"Of course, we love our moms and grandparents, and everyone in the world loves ice cream," she said. "But when you’re developing an iconic brand, it’s the millennials that are going to drive the trends and the cool association that we want."

It was somewhere in the early 2000s when Haagen-Dazs lost its "cool" factor and the age of its target audience "crept up unintentionally," she added.

"Lots of bling, gold and diamonds—that was really appropriate in the ‘90s," she said. "Luxury today is about craftsmanship, quality and integrity of ingredients. I think our brand was still in the old definition of luxury, which works great for a certain group of consumers," but not with millennials.

Today’s youth is fashion forward, which is why the marketer didn’t use traditional food producers for this campaign, opting instead for style photographers like Tom Munro, who’s worked with Dolce & Gabbana and Vogue.

They’re also on their phones, which is why Haagen-Dazs asked UK-design firm Love to redesign its packaging with Instagram in mind. "We want you to be so proud to take your picture with it," Jorgensen said.

And millennials are, by and large, healthier than their parents, so Haagen-Dazs shows portion control in the Saatchi ad by featuring mini pints and stick bars. "They want all of the indulgence, but just small," she said. "They’re like, ‘Don’t cheat me or give me low fat this or whatever. I want it, but just smaller.’" The commercial also showcases the brand’s lower calorie frozen yogurt and sorbets. 

But where millennials differ is their tastes based on location. Asians may like Green Tea, and the French may prefer Caramel, so the 60-second spot is designed to be easily dissected into six vignettes, customizable for each of Haagen-Dazs’s 100 global markets, excluding the U.S. and Canada where the brand is owned by Nestle, and Japan where it’s managed by Suntory. This type of flexible approach also lends the ads to be edited for use across social media, other digital video channels and, of course, television.

Jorgensen said it will take through the end of the year for the package redesign and video creative to roll out globally, but she’s encouraged with the preliminary results. "In the markets where we’ve gone live with this work, sales are just rocking," she said, adding that last quarter sales are up 50 percent in the United Kingdom and 18 percent across Europe and Australia.

"All around the world, it is just starting to pop," Jorgensen said. "I think the key is, consumers always loved the product. It was just that branding piece, where they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s for my mom. It’s not for me.’ And it really is. It’s a modern brand of today."

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