Hudsonville Ice Cream and the Power of Social Media


Social Media comes with a lot of hype, and businesses are jumping on-board with fan pages, tweets and the like.  The strategy and goals of each company vary with their social media plan or lack of one.  One local West Michigan company that is doing a great job at social media is Hudsonville Ice Cream, and I had first-hand personal experience by becoming one of Hudsonville Ice Cream’s Chicagoland Ice Cream Ambassadors.

As a casual West Michigan business observer, I use Twitter and Facebook to follow many local companies.  Sometime in late February I came across a tweet from Hudsonville_IC that lead to their facebook page that caught my attention:

“Do you or someone you know live in Chicagoland & love Hudsonville Ice Cream? For a limited time in March & April, Hudsonville Ice Cream will be available at all Jewel stores. We are looking for 50 Cool Ambassadors to host in home ice cream socials. We provide everything, even the ice cream! Tell us why you want to be a… Hudsonville Ice Cream Cool Ambassador & we may roll our truck to your home for a special delivery!”

As a Chicago native I was intrigued, and  it ended up being the perfect scenario because in late March we were having a birthday party for my daughter at her great grandmother’s house to celebrate with the Chicago side of the family.  So I quickly nominated myself, and waited to see what happend.

A couple days later I was contacted by Ken Filippini at Hudsonville Ice Cream, and was told that I was one of the people chosen to host an ice cream social in Chicago.  All that was expected was that you would take pictures or videos of your ice cream social and send them back to Hudsonville Ice Cream, so that they could use the materials.  So in return for a few photos and videos, the hosts received the following:

Ice Cream:   Two 56 Oz cartons of each of:

  • Vanilla – Our original vanilla flavored ice cream made with vanilla and fresh cream
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes Bear Hug –Thick caramel and chocolate covered cashews in our original chocolate ice cream
  • Grand Traverse Bay Cherry Fudge® – Sweet chunks of cherries and thick fudge ripple in creamy cherry ice cream
  • Blueberry Cobbler – Vanilla ice cream swirled with a ribbon of sweet blueberries and golden pie crust pieces
  • Michigan Deer Traxx®- Peanut butter cups and thick chocolate fudge in our original vanilla flavored ice cream
  • SuperScoop. Super swirls of thick, creamy black cherry, blue moon and our original vanilla flavored ice cream.  We only got one of these though.

Supplies

  • 1 Freezer Bag
  • 3- Coolers
  • 3 Hudsonville Ice Cream Spades
  • 25 Bowls
  • 25 Spoons
  • 30 Napkins
  • 2 Aprons
  • 2 Hats
  • 10 Ice Cream Ambassador Refrigerator Magnets
  • 10 Ice Cream description sheets with photos
  • Blank CD
  • Blank DVD
  • Stamped Return Envelope
  • Ice Cream Ambassador Information Guide

Wow, that is a lot of stuff.  Well since I lived in Holland, they asked that I pick up the ice cream myself from their headquarters. I was quite excited to check out the inside of the building that I had driven past so many times.  The interior was like a lodge in the woods.  Wood detail everywhere, but very well done.  I meet with Heidi Buttrey, their Creative Director, who took me back into the plant area to retrieve the ice cream, coolers and dry ice.  The plant area was huge, I had no idea that the building stretched that far back.  The dock area was a large open space, with giant murals painted on one wall depicting animals eating ice cream, painted was though a child had done it.  The murals were done by Joel Tanis (thanks Craig Rich, and to A List Maker’s Life blog), and are very creative and quite cute.  We finally got all the ice cream packaged in the coolers with the dry ice, and I grabbed my other supplies and headed home to prepare for the trip to Chicago the next day for my daughter’s party.

Luckily the dry ice kept everything frozen solid during the trip, and after dinner everyone was ready for ice cream.  No one else at the party had ever been exposed to Hudsonville Ice Cream, but everyone enjoyed it thoroughly, and everyone made sure to try each and every flavor offered.  We ended up giving all the leftover ice cream to the party attendees (one of which had thought ahead and brought several Ziploc bags for leftovers).  One of the things I found most surprising is how my daughter’s grandparents loved SuperScoop (the blue, red, and yellow) ice cream.  They had avoided it for their first sampling, but when they went back for seconds they tried it and loved it.  We ended up handing out most of the other stuff to our guests as well, although we did keep one ice cream scooper because it looked cool and worked great.

So my experience with Hudsonville Ice Cream and their social media efforts was quite memorable.  It was a creative way to jump into a new market, and use current brand ambassadors to spread the word further.  Plus who could resist ice cream.  I enjoyed being a part of the launch in Chicago, and promoting the brand to friends and family, and not to mention I greatly enjoyed the ice cream as well (the Blueberry Cobbler is excellent), but most important was seeing my daughter enjoy herself profusely at her birthday party, and her blue ice cream face.

For another blog post on Hudsonville Ice Cream’s PR event which was heavily promoted on Facebook and Twitter, check out Marn’s Market.

For yet another cool blog post about Hudsonville Ice Cream PR effort, read A List Maker’s Life post.   The blogger and her family received an invite to tour the Hudsonville Ice Cream’s factory after a blog post she had written.

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9 responses to “Hudsonville Ice Cream and the Power of Social Media

  1. Congratulations, oh Cool Ambassador! Sounds like great fun – I’m jealous. (As another Chicago native, wish I’d seen the notice – I’ve got family there too, and could have gotten in on the tasty swag!) Good thing the Dan Ryan wasn’t what it CAN be …I have visions of many multi-colored streams of sticky delight oozing out the doors of the van as it sat next to Comiskey–oops, make that U.S. Cellular – park.
    Fun to read – and thanks for the shout-out to my post. I’ll have to try the “Sleeping Bear Dunes Bear Hug” when I’m back in town. That one sounds good to me!

    • Thanks Mike. Yes I am not too crazy about the title just like you weren’t at their “The Coolest Taste to Share EXTRAVAGANZA” title, but the ice cream more than made up for it. You might want to try reaching out to Hudsonville because they mentioned they might do this program again sometime in June, let me know if you need details.

  2. I’m pretty sure that Joel Tanis did the cool murals inside the Hudsonville Ice Cream plant.
    http://www.joeltanis.com

  3. Indeed it is true………we will be rolling another round of “in home ice cream socials” in Chicago and are planning to treat our Michigan fans with an opportunity to host parties and become Ambassadors throughout the state…….shhhhh, you heard it first here!

  4. Excellent news! Thanks for the official “scoop”. It is great way to reinforce your brand in an established market. I am really impressed with your marketing activities and promotions, well done.

  5. Thanks for the link. I was so impressed with Ken and the entire Hudsonville team. They are cutting edge in our area as far as using social media to connect with their market.

  6. We have a large network of influencial bloggers in West Michigan who would love to partner with you. Let me know if you want more info.

    I was at your Kid’s Food Basket event and it was so impressive. Thanks for all you do for KFB!!

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