As HÄagen-Dazs has moved its “Help the Honey Bees” campaign into the social media hive, the ice cream brand hasn’t been sure what to expect. But by the end of this year, the firm was pleased enough with their efforts to allocate leftover 2009 budget money toward continuing its social honey bees initiative.
In conjunction with its broader efforts to help raise awareness of and prevent the extinction of honey bee populations, HÄagen-Dazs has worked with social media company Experience Project throughout the year, launching a Twitter campaign in September, and another in November. Experience Project calls itself the “largest collection of shared experiences online” and its TwitCause service helps promote charities and causes by encouraging followers to re-tweet posts about organizations it spotlights.
“As a marketer, we want to tap into evangelists and people who are passionate about something,” said Tonya Iles, interactive manager for HÄagen-Dazs. “Even if they’re not passionate about our ice cream, they’re passionate about the [honey bee] cause.”
The company aims to reach people who care about natural foods and strive to be the first to discover new products, such as new HÄagen-Dazs ice cream flavors made with natural ingredients.
HÄagen-Dazs is “still trying to get together a larger social media strategy. We’re just getting our feet wet with one-offs,” Iles said, calling the brand’s social media efforts “fairly conservative” so far.
In September, TwitCause highlighted the “Help the Honey Bees” initiative, which challenged supporters to post photos of themselves planting flowers, and to eat natural foods, helping associate HÄagen-Dazs with natural foods.
In November, the ice cream maker renewed with Experience Project, using TwitCause to help raise funds for The University of California at Davis Honey Bee Research Facility. HÄagen-Dazs agreed to pay $1 to the school every time someone retweeted its message about the fundraising effort.
Originally, the company planned to cap its donations during the week-long November run to $500 per day, but Iles said that far more people retweeted the message than anticipated, so “We doubled that. We weren’t sure what the right formula would be.”
Between November 5 and 11, the sponsored TwitCause effort generated more than 7,000 tweets, according to HÄagen-Dazs.
In December, HÄagen-Dazs yet again chose to continue its work with Experience Project, using remaining 2009 marketing budget funds. Members of the Experience Project site are prompted by HÄagen-Dazs to list five essential things in their lives. “For every story you share, you join HÄagen-Dazs and Experience Project in bringing awareness to the honey bee crisis!” states the site. The “five things” are reminiscent of the brand’s “Five” line of ice cream flavors, which are made with only five natural ingredients.
Experience Project members are “highly engaged” and “more than willing to share [information] with their friends and family, and they wanted to connect,” Iles said.
The ice cream company also promotes a Facebook application through its Honey Bees Experience Project page; the app lets Facebook users send friends cartoon bees dressed as astronauts or bikers.
Iles said that working with Experience Project facilitated the advertiser’s social media learning process. “They were willing to really shoulder most of the work because we usually use an agency partner to bring us these ideas.”
HÄagen-Dazs launched the Help the Honey Bees initiative in early 2008, and plans to continue it in 2010.