I Scream, You Scream

21 10 2011

We all scream for ice cream. Sis-boom-bah! (Everybody, sing along!)

And sometimes we scream at ice cream. Like when it’s the controversial new flavor Schweddy Balls from Ben & Jerry’s. Based on the 1998 SNL skit starring Alec Baldwin, Schweddy Balls has become an instant supermarket hit.

But the group One Million Moms has unleashed a campaign against Ben & Jerry’s as well as supermarkets carrying the product. Locker room humor has no place in your grocer’s freezer, they argue. Or yours, apparently.

Talk about getting your undies in a bunch.

Some stores have actually stopped carrying it. I was not able to find any in our bucolic little village, but up the road in that bastion of liberalness, Amarillo, I found it at the Coulter Road WalMart. I bought the last pair (ouch).

Ah, nothing like a good controversy to get the PR train rolling. Ben & Jerry’s is not a new passenger, having pushed the envelope on many a prior occasion (e.g., ClusterFluff, Hubby Hubby and Karamel Sutra are three other recent ones). They seem to thrive on controversy.

Here’s the scoop: Controversy begets attention, and attention begets sales. The product doesn’t even necessarily have to be good. With a name like Schweddy Balls, how could anyone not do a double-take? Two scoops, please!

And so we had a little ice cream social in my departmental suite today. We just had to taste the controversy. We invited any professors we could find. Truth be known, the name has more selling power than the product. It was so-so. I dunno, maybe it just needed more rum.

Or cough syrup. But I digress. Cough, cough.

While Ben & Jerry’s says it is the best-selling limited edition flavor yet, let us put this in perspective. It is just that: a limited-time-only product. Which is another way of saying it is no different from seasonal menu items at Applebee’s, pumpkin beer from Blue Moon, and egg nog. The big difference is that it has marketing sizzle, intrigue, and a boycott.

This stuff is priceless, and folks in the board room know it. It’s what made Heart Attack Grill famous. The Big Texan world-renown. Sweet frozen dreams are made of this.

As for the folks at Ben & Jerry’s, I wonder if it truly is to their long term advantage to be known more for their cheeky product names than the actual ice cream. Or if they are just here for our pleasure.

Dr “No One Can Resist” Gerlich




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