Ben & Jerry's campaign is sprinkled with humor

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Hoping to scoop a bigger share of the $13 billion ice cream market, Ben & Jerry's this week reinforces its do-gooder image in its first major ad campaign under new ownership by Anglo-Dutch food giant Unilever.

In a national radio effort targeting 18- to 34-year-olds, two gruff-sounding male voices identifying themselves as "Freezer Fairies" say they have chosen the "freezer as our medium" and that they are "repo men" trying to balance good and evil. They discuss how individuals doing good deeds are rewarded by finding Ben & Jerry's ice cream in the freezer.

The campaign, with anticipated spending of $5 million to $10 million, breaks on major radio stations in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, followed June 11 in Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Miami, Seattle and Washington, D.C. It runs through Aug. 19.

"Ben & Jerry's strategy is joy for the belly and for the soul," said Bob Ellis, director of client services for agency Havas Advertising's Black Rocket Euro RSCG, San Francisco. Using altruism as a motivator "helps us to sell a few more pints of ice cream and makes freezer fairies of all of us," he said.

Black Rocket's John Yost, an agency founder, said the agency pitched the concept to Ben & Jerry's in 1997, but the client rejected it. When marketing leadership at the client changed, the agency was contacted about giving the campaign a try. Ben & Jerry's previous agency was Havas sibling McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C.

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