I walked right in, handed over my money and did exactly what they wanted me to do… I Instagrammed my hand dipped Magnum ice cream bar. “Why is this a problem?”, the ice cream addicted reader might ask? It was all a clever advertising activation.

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My mad creation in the graffiti photo booth at the Magnum Pleasure Store in New York City.

The Magnum “Pleasure Store” located in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City is a textbook advertising activation. Customers select a chocolate or vanilla base. Then they choose one of three chocolate coatings and add up to 3 dry toppings, ranging from dried fruits to Himalayan pink salt. What seems like a pleasant place to take your significant other for ice cream at the end of a date is really a well thought out content generator.

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What does an activation actually mean? A brand activation occurs when a company (or its advertising agency) brings a product to the consumer in an innovative, personal way. These activations are created in large cities with temporary “pop-up” stores. Activations differ from print, digital, or TV advertisements because they create an experience around consuming the product. This experience creates an emotional, tangible connection between the brand and the consumer.

The Magnum NYC pop up was no different from other similar concepts, except for the ace hidden up their sleeves: photo booths. Specially designed photo booths encouraged visitors to snap pictures on their cell phones. The photos of freshly dipped dessert bars are then posted to social media sites. The insides of the booths are decorated with four different designs spanning simple, artsy, and everything in between. The outside panels cleverly featured #magnumpleasurestore and #magnum to entice visitors to post their custom creations on their feeds.

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There IS a method to this madness. What if I told you that Magnum didn’t need to sell more units of their ice cream bars? In fact, last summer they beat Q3 sales expectations by 8%). You’d probably call me crazy and respond with something like: “of course they want to sell more ice cream bars; that’s why they charged me $7!”

Pause and let’s dive a little deeper. Remember when I said the store concept was an innovative content generator? Magnum, along with its team at KBS+, Mosaic, and Oglivy & Mather changed the way consumer brands incorporate experiential marketing into their mix. Not only did they have thousands of bragadocious millennials posting their personal creations all over social media, they actually made them pay to do so. Genious, right? The agency-client team created a low pressure environment encouraging customers to share their personal creations with social media friends. Thousands of impressions generated close to a million dollars in revenue and media for the company for a fraction of what the company typically would spend on a campaign.

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I spent this past summer at one of the industry’s most well known advertising agencies and I fell for it. I paid to give Magnum access to my 400 followers. Honestly, I had an incredible time doing it.

Bravo Magnum. Bravo.

If you’re looking for a great ice cream spot or to take part in the experience, visit the New York City Magnum Pleasure Store at 134 Prince St, New York, NY 10012.

Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand manager based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.

 

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