Dean Food's is hopeful the company has successfully rebranded Steve's Ice Cream after the premium ice-cream treat fell dormant in recent years. Founded in 1973 and said to have inspired the Ben & Jerry's brand, Steve's has struggled in recent years and declared bankruptcy in 2017.
Dean Foods, however, scooped up Steve's, seeking entry into the artisanal ice-cream category to diversify its portfolio beyond core dairy products.
The "Crave the Unexpected" campaign, developed with Forsman & Bodenfors New York, attempts to expand brand awareness messaging into a larger, more holistic call-to-action. It is aimed at creative millennials and likens the brand's affinity for unique flavors and mix-in ingredients to other creative pursuits.
“Putting branded experiences that showcased Steve’s unique purpose at the center of the marketing campaign created a level of consumer engagement and conversation in ways a traditional advertising campaign simply can’t create," explains Mark Schneider, marketing director, ice cream, Dean Foods.
"It is essential that Steve’s be seen as not just as an ice cream brand with interesting flavors — this year it launched seven new treats — but as a brand that engages with our customers and encourages them to seek and experience creativity, whatever the form."
Timed to coincide with peak ice-cream consumption during the summer months, the centerpiece of the relaunch partnered with artist Dan Lam and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston to create a fully interactive art exhibit that took over the museum’s harbor-facing facade on June 9, July 5 and Aug. 2.
Visitors were encouraged to touch and play with her pieces, which are crafted with unexpected textures, colors and materials not usually found in the art world. And, of course, they received free samples of some of Steve’s most creative flavors.
The brand is now rolling out new packaging featuring brighter colors and bold messaging.
This makeover represents a new direction for Steve's after previously focusing on being a "Brooklyn artisanal/craft" brand.
"When Dean Foods brought them and explored the positioning, their research showed the 'Brooklyn artisanal/craft' space within ice cream was very crowded," says Michael Levitt, account services, F&B, NY. "So, we took Steve's back to its original roots and went from there."