Nestle Drumstick, a standard among kids, has been reborn by taking the nostalgic Drumstick brand baby boomers grew up with and updating it with a bevy of sophisticated flavors that appeal to older taste buds.
The result, Nestle Drumstick Supreme, has propelled overall brand sales by more than 20% and helped ice cream cones become the second-fastest growing segment of frozen novelties, with sales up 10%.
The resurgence began in earnest last year, with Nestle Ice Cream Co.'s launch of four Supreme items-Vanilla Chip With Chocolate Chips, Strawberry Swirl, Cappuccino Coffee and Coffee With Chocolate Layers. This year, a Triple Chocolate variety featuring layers of milk, white and dark chocolate has been added.
For the new line only, the actual shape of the cone is changed-for the first time in the company's long history-by adding a "flower decorated" flat top.
"We took a product people know and love and brought innovation to it," said Kevin Srigley, Nestle Drumstick marketing manager, adding that the changes brought in "a lot of interest and a different set of consumers."
OUT OF THE ORDINARY
To point up the message that this isn't your ordinary Drumstick, Nestle is running a spot TV and outdoor advertising campaign from Publicis, Dallas.
The effort is running in U.S. markets chosen "as pockets of strength and opportunity," Mr. Srigley said.
A TV commercial shows an adult couple in a horse-drawn carriage and is set to the music of Frank Sinatra's "The Best Is Yet to Come." The woman devours a Strawberry Swirl Supreme cone.
Outdoor ads show all varieties, with the theme "A vacation from the ordinary."
Nestle wouldn't discuss spending on the effort, but Competitive Media Reporting data show $3 million in measured media expenditures for Drumstick in 1997, a large amount considering it's spent mainly during the short window of the spring/summer ice-cream season.
Moreover, with ad spending levels nosediving in the novelty category, a $3 million outlay is considerable.
ON THE RISE
Nestle's market share is climbing at a rapid pace. For the 52 weeks ended May 24, Drumstick sales increased a strong 20.4% to $93 million, tying Unilever's Popsicle brand for third place in the frozen novelty category, with a 5.7% share.
Sales of ice cream cone novelties-a segment of which Nestle has 60%-jumped 10%, according to IRI data for the 52 weeks ended June 14.
"We led that [segment] growth," said Mr. Srigley.
The invigoration of the segment appears to prove a theory advanced by a marketing executive from a Nestle competitor that novelties can grow if given enough new-product innovation.
"Novelties are underdeveloped," he said. "They now represent only 18% to 20% of the total [ice cream] category."
Nestle's Mr. Srigley said in explaining Drumstick's success: "I don't think it was one thing. We brought innovation, new flavors and a new eating experience."
Drumstick can sustain growth, too, he indicated.
"It'd be unrealistic to expect another year like last one," Mr. Srigley said, but "We're off to a good start."