Ben & Jerry's wants frozen yogurt lovers to spoon. The ice cream brand got a little racy with its 4.3 million Facebook followers to introduce a new product line - Greek frozen yogurt.
Working with New York agency Amalgamated, the brand launched an app in early August that scans a user's pool of Facebook friends and uncovers several unexpected matches. When people like any of the matches, they can post an invitation to "spoon," which appears on the chosen friend's Facebook wall and news feed, along with a coupon. The app identifies five to 15 potential spoon partners from which one can be chosen.
Spooning is a side-by-side embrace in which partners lie on their sides and snuggle up to one another.
The revelation that the invitation means spooning yogurt rather than cuddling under the covers makes the campaign "more playful," and the fact that it is publicly posted "gives it a little more tension," said Paul Aaron, Amalgamated partner and head of interactive for the agency. Both help drive participation, he said. While the app is mainly aimed at the company's existing fans, any Facebook member can use it.
So, how many people has it reached?
According to the agency, more than 20,000 people signed up for the app within three weeks. More than a quarter of those people went on to post invitations on friend's walls and news feeds, which generated "hundreds of thousands" of impressions, said Aaron. Another indicator: an August 13 post about the app that ran on the brand's Facebook wall attracted about 35,000 likes and almost 7,000 shares in 15 days.
In addition to the double entendre, the quirky way the app selects potential spooning partners has helped it build buzz. For instance, matches might be made because both people have the exact same number of Facebook friends, or both people love bacon or they both have a relative with the same first name.
The social campaign was designed to reflect the attitudes of the brand's Facebook following, said Aaron. Ben & Jerry's is known for its goofy flavor names like "Chubby Hubby" and "Cherry Garcia."
So far, the vast majority of the people who signed up for the app have been Ben & Jerry's Facebook fans, he said. "Our goal is to engage this group, which enjoys humor, is passionate about ice cream and tends to be left-leaning and liberal."
Indeed, comments about the app often reflect that attitude. One fan posted, "How thoughtful! Hookin us up with ice cream and a cutie!" Another remarked, "funny and disturbing at the same time."
Since the app helps users make unsolicited personal overtures to their Facebook connections, some bloggers have wondered if all the recipients will share in the joke, or if some might find it intrusive. The average Facebook user has between 200 and 250 friends, and on average, seven percent of those friends are people whom the user has never met, according to Pew Research Center.
In response, Aaron told ClickZ that only 19 people have blocked the branded app and Facebook has not gotten any spam reports about it. "We encourage people to think before they post an invitation and to show a level of responsibility. There have been no negatives complaints reported," he said.
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Joan Voight is a Contributing Editor to ClickZ. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she has covered online and offline media, marketing and advertising since the mid-1990s for several business publications. She spent nine years at Adweek magazine, where she was San Francisco bureau chief, national senior writer and contributing reporter.
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