Between Halo Top and Yasso, Frozen Treats Are Hot

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Halo Top
Halo Top Credit: Halo Top

As competition heats up this summer, Halo Top is out with its first more traditional ad campaign, a series of digital commercials focused on angel vs. devil comedy.

Halo Top, which sells high-protein pints ranging from 240 to 360 calories, until now relied on social media outreach, including Insta-worthy photos and giveaways, to boost its fan base. Now, it wants to be seen by a broader audience as "The Perfect Pint."

Meanwhile, Yasso, a small, growing player in low-calorie frozen treats, is introducing its own digital ads and other marketing. The push by both marketers (coincidentally each with a bit of an "I scream, you scream" element), shows the fierce competition when it comes to frozen desserts, especially those people can feel less guilty about indulging in.

Even Kroger is joining the fray, with its own Simple Truth Low Cow Lite Ice Cream containing 240-280 calories and 24 grams of protein per pint. The first six flavors include birthday cake, chocolate, lemon cake, mint chocolate chip, sea salt caramel, and vanilla bean, a lineup that has plenty of crossover with Halo Top's existing portfolio. Lemon Cake is one of the very first flavors Halo Top Founder and CEO Justin Woolverton said he came up with.

Woolverton, who described his company's prior marketing strategy as "a little more whack-a-mole" as it tried to keep up with growth, said it felt like the right time to do something "a little more universal ... a little more organized."

Halo Top's campaign comes after the brand's distribution expanded into a number of major retailers, including Costco Wholesale. Halo Top was recently the second best-selling pint in the U.S. behind Unilever's Ben & Jerry's, the company said, citing IRI data for the four weeks ended June 21.

And in the 52 weeks ended June 11, Halo Top's sales rose 2,484.9% to $160.9 million, according to data provided by IRI. Growth at Yasso, too, is outpacing the broader ice cream category, with sales up by a much smaller -- but still pretty stellar -- 34.8%, hitting $71.4 million over the same period. Yasso predicts it will hit the top 10 in the frozen novelty desserts category by the end of 2017. Its frozen Greek yogurt bars and sandwiches contain 80 to 150 calories and 5 grams of protein.

"So Many Copycats"
Halo Top reached out to about five agencies and in April picked Philadelphia-based Red Tettemer O'Connell & Partners. The campaign plays on Halo Top's angelic branding, which includes the packaging's gold-edge lids meant to represent a halo. In the first two spots, directed by Casey Storm of Anonymous Content, the devil tries to get the Halo Top-making angel to stop making the product.

"We're at least trying to be funny, a little more light-hearted," Woolverton said of the campaign, its first content beyond social media outreach such as pictures of ice cream, which Woolverton shot himself when the brand got its start. Two ads begin airing Thursday, with two more to follow in July.

Halo Top will still rely on Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms. But running ads on digital video players including YouTube may help it attract shoppers who don't follow the brand, including those who are not as calorie conscious. Halo Top is working with programmatic agencies to expand its reach.

Woolverton declined to share details on any new flavors or products, citing the competition. "We just have so many copycats out there," he said. "It's flattering, but we have companies that don't even try to hide that they're just completely a Halo Top clone."

Yasso's summer campaign, "Boom Goes the Ice Cream," was created with Fortnight Collective and includes out of home, radio, digital and social components. The collective's Kat Street and Brock Johnson appearing as voiceover talent in digital content.

And in August, Yasso plans to give free bars away from an "I Scream" truck to people who scream loud enough.

The sampling effort is not the only one in the low-cal frozen dessert space. Earlier this month, Arctic Zero, which makes both pints and bars, began its "Freedom Tour," with sampling events in cities including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle, plus a brand Spotify channel for the summer.

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