M&M/Mars ice cream sees Red for its debut

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M&M/Mars' Red spokescandy is hitting the freezer section this summer to get the word out about his new ice cream.

The M&M/Mars-Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream joint venture is rolling out its initial six ice cream varieties based on the Mars unit's popular candy brands -- among them M&M's, Snickers and 3 Musketeers. It will begin to support the line early this summer with promotions that play off the candy brands' equities.

"When a company like Mars is spending $150 million-plus a year to advertise their candy brands, the most important communication is to let people know these candies are available in a new form, ice cream, from a company they know and trust," said Lynn Kirimli, general manager for the joint venture, formed in October.

To do that, the new company is deploying Red -- popular through Mars' continuing ad campaign from BBDO Worldwide, New York -- and official Dreyer's ice cream taster John Harrison to hit major markets such as New York and Chicago later this month to promote the line at local events and with local media outlets.

NEWSPAPER PROMO

In May, inserts in Sunday newspapers will tout an offer for a ceramic ice cream bowl featuring Red and his fellow M&M's characters for $3.50 plus purchase of several packages of the 48-ounce ice cream tubs, which are aimed at women ages 25 to 45 and their families. In June and July, Red will appear in point-of-purchase materials offering consumers samples of the ice cream, which will appear in the West as Edy's Presents and in the East under the Dreyer's Presents label.

Coupons on packages of M&M's, Twix, Milky Way, Snickers and 3 Musketeers will promote the extension of the candies into the ice cream section as will POP materials featuring Red and Yellow, Ms. Kirimli said.

"While there is a lot of ice cream out there with candy in it, ours is different than regular mix-ins because the ice cream makers worked with Mars' candy makers to capture the essence of the candy experience," she said. Twix, for example, carries little bits of cookie plus chopped-up Twix to give the ice cream a cookie crunch.

COUPONING

Coupons for the new line will also appear on Mars' frozen Snickers Bar, Snickers Cone and M&M's Ice Cream Sandwich, novelties Dreyer's sells and distributes in 80% of the country. The Snickers ice cream variety will be included in outdoor advertising later this year for Mars' Snickers frozen novelties, also handled by BBDO.

Sales for Dreyer's and Edy's totaled $488 million for the year ended Dec. 26, according to Information Resources Inc., making up a 12.6% share of the nearly $4 billion ice cream category. Good Humor-Breyers is the leader with its $497 million Breyers brand. Nestle USA and Pillsbury Co. announced their own joint venture, Ice Cream Partners USA, in August, linking Pillsbury's Haagen-Dazs superpremium ice cream with Nestle's ice cream novelties.

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