Bad breakup? There, there, B&J know just how you feel

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Ben & Jerry's is acknowledging a universal truth: Ice cream is mood food.

Based on scads of letters from consumers describing how they interact with the brand, the Unilever-owned ice cream marketer plans to launch a line for its retail "scoop shops" dubbed Mood Magic. The strategy is to link its chunky flavors to everyday moods and-more predominantly-into life's highest highs and lowest lows. Bowing this spring, varieties including Chocolate Therapy, Apple-y Ever After and The Last Straw will be touted in print ads, through in-store materials and via other guerrilla tactics.

"For normal troubles, people might turn to another ice cream brand, but when you hit major troubles you turn to Ben & Jerry's," said David Stever, director-marketing for Ben & Jerry's. That insight has been culled from the many stories consumers have shared with Ben & Jerry's in letters, the most famous among them one from an entire sorority naming Ben & Jerry's their "breakup ice cream brand of choice."

Although pints of Mood Magic's Chocolate Therapy and In a Crunch varieties will be launched in grocery outlets as Limited Batch offerings this year (featuring a `60s-style color-changing mood ring panel on the packaging), the primary push for the line will be in Ben & Jerry's standalone shops. Mr. Stever said franchises will receive a wider-than-usual array of flexible marketing tools to play up the line in their locales, among them an array of print executions from Amalgamated, New York, radio scripts for DJs and "Mood Wheels" consumers can spin to determine their "prescription."

Print ads from Amalgamated feature a variety of scenarios franchisees can tailor to their circumstances, including shopping (for outlets located in malls) or games (for those close to parks or fields). The ads offer four different outcomes and correlate them with the appropriate flavor with the tagline, "Ice cream for every mood."

For example, Ben & Jerry's prescribes its chocolate ice cream with chocolate cookies and swirls of pudding (a.k.a. Chocolate Therapy) for those who "scored the winning point for the other team." For those "demoted to water boy" it's strawberry ice cream with a fudge swirl and strawberry fudge chunks (The Last Straw).

"It plays to the basic truth of the brand, which is that people are eating this stuff because of a mood they're in," said Margaret Rimsky, brand strategist at Amalgamated. The independent shop has handled advertising for Ben & Jerry's grocery brand since 2002 but just this year added project work for the scoop shop side of the business. "Ben & Jerry's has always been more than just an ice cream. ... it's celebratory when you're happy and consoling when you're sad."

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