- Halo Top Creamery, a Los Angeles-based ice cream chain that expanded to Canada last year, is taking advantage of the country's first long weekend of summer with two pop-up drive-thrus, according to a press release. The brand will dish out free ice cream to Canadians leaving town for the upcoming Victoria Day holiday weekend.
- These drive-thrus will open Friday, May 17 in Toronto and Vancouver, an afternoon when major traffic is expected in the populated cities. People are encouraged to enter their location into Waze to find the sponsored Halo Top pins that mark the drive-thru locations. People can visit the pop-ups in a car, on foot or on a bike for a free pint until supplies last. There will be 10,000 pints in various flavors handed out at both locations.
- Those that aren't in the area can visit a "virtual drive-thru" at the promotion's microsite this weekend to unlock a coupon for a free pint. The first 5,000 people to visit the site will be sent coupons that can be used in stores that carry the ice cream brand.
Halo Top Creamery entered the Canadian market in February 2018 and now sells a variety of its products in grocery store chains across the country. Despite its relatively rapid expansion, the Los Angeles-based healthy ice cream brand is not yet a household name in Canada, so hosting pop-up activations in crowded cities across the country could serve as a significant driver of brand awareness at the kickoff to summer, when consumers may be thinking of cool treats to enjoy in the impending heat.
Victoria Day weekend is often thought of as the summer opener in Canada, and Halo Top is savvy to try to activate new audiences at the beginning of the season when people are more likely to buy ice cream. The digital and in-person elements will likely drive brand awareness at both busy physical locations, as well as online. The "virtual" drive-thru allows Canadians that won't be near the pop-up locations to partake in the promotion and learn more about the newer ice cream brand.
Creating a Waze integration at a time when people are more likely to use the app — as they drive out of town on weekend trips — is a deft use of the location-based technology. The Google-owned navigation platform recently shifted its focus to "destination-based marketing" and has been used in successful campaigns by McDonald's and Burger King for driving brand engagement and sales.
The campaign also makes literal its message of "sweetening" the often frustrating holiday weekend driving experience. Almost 70% of Canadians agree that traffic is the worst part of the holiday weekend, with 62% revealing that traffic is bad enough to make them question traveling, according to the brand's research.
Halo Top is not the first to experiment with experiential marketing activations in Canada. Taco Bell in March created a "Slide-Thru" window to distribute a new product to people on snow tubes at a ski resort near Toronto, while American Express last year hosted a pop-up art event in the city to get its brand in front of Canadian consumers.