CINCINNATI: Graeter's Ice Cream is leveraging a brand ambassador program as the company expands to four new markets.
The “Fanbassador” program was created after Graeter's and AOR FKM noticed how many bloggers and consumers reached out to the company commenting about the brand, which has been in business for 141 years, said George Denman, VP of sales and marketing at Graeter's.
FKM and HyperDrive, the company's social media and direct marketing AOR for three years, worked with Graeter's to launch the effort with 5,000 email invitations. The company asked consumers and bloggers to become brand ambassadors in markets such as Dallas, Los Angeles, and Portland.
“I figured it would probably take about three or four weeks to get enough responses back, but it took about two hours,” he said. “I had 185 emails from Fanbassador requests in the first day.”
Once 500 fans were selected, HyperDrive sent them kits in the mail that contained VIP coupons for Graeter's ice cream and paraphernalia, including a mouse pad, balloons, a bumper sticker, and a personal letter from Richard Graeter, president of the company. The Fanbassadors were asked to hold “an intimate ice cream social” with 20 to 50 of their friends to introduce them to the brand. They are also required to give testimonials, post videos or photos, and get their friends to “like” Graeter's on Facebook, said Denman. The Graeter's Facebook page has nearly 150,000 fans.
In order to promote the Fanbassador program, FKM reached out to print and broadcast media outlets, as well as bloggers. Denman said Richard Graeter has made appearances on the Fox Business Channel and Bloomberg News.
Denman said the company decided to expand its ice cream distribution to Florida, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. Graeter's began the expansion to Florida this week, placing its ice cream in more than 1,000 stores throughout the state. In February, the company will roll out its products in other markets.
“We're going to double our distribution base to about 8,000 stores between now and March,” Denman said.
In January, Graeter's will begin sending Fanbassador email invitations to consumers and bloggers in Florida. The emails will go out to fans in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York in March or April.