Marketing Magic From The Ice Cream Man

blankOne of the earliest examples of marketing magic that I can remember was from the ice cream man.

I was 8 years old, and boy-oh-boy, when I heard that ice cream jingle coming up the hill I dropped whatever I was doing and scrambled to scrape up enough change for a soft serve swirl cone – half chocolate half vanilla.

That audio trigger worked like a charm. Every kid in the neighborhood came running, drooling like Pavlov’s dog. It proves that sound can be one of the most powerful, yet underutilized, marketing tools.

If you haven’t spent days sweating over the sound design of your company’s audio signature, you’re missing a powerful sensory experience. Echoic memory beats visual memory every time.

Why do you think I can still remember jingles like “twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettucecheesepicklesonionsonaseasameseedbun” for McDonald’s. Or “plop plop fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is” for Alka Selzer.

Trial lawyers have proven, time and time again, that visual memory is unreliable at best. “Eye witness” testimony is notoriously unreliable — not what they like to build their cases on.

Echoic memory, on the other hand, is embedded in the most reptilian recesses of the brain, ready to be recalled with minimal prompting.

But that’s not the lesson for this post…

Marketing magic - BN Branding

The lesson is from that memorable summer day when my hard-earned ice cream cone slipped and fell face down on the scorching hot pavement.

The “big boys” were teasing me. I had no more change. I was fighting back tears. And that ice cream man saved the day.

He saw me moping around, so after all the other kids were served and gone he climbed out of his truck and handed me a purple Popcicle. A consolation of my favorite flavor.

Maybe he knew that was the only other thing I ever bought from him. Maybe he knew my dad. (Small town) Or maybe it was just the first thing he grabbed.

I don’t know, but it sure worked wonders.

Just goes to show you… Sometimes the smallest customer service gestures have the biggest impact.

That’s good branding!

So this summer remember… we’re all inundated with sales pitches, commercial messages and a lot of hot air. Most of what we hear on TV, radio and social media is triple digit nonsense. So it isn’t, actually, that hard to stand out from the over-heated crowd.


Just play it cool and show that you care.

Turn down the heat and be the mojito at the end of a hectic Monday.

Channel your ice cream vendor mentality and provide a little something extra that will be a refreshing break from noise, the routine, and the heat of the summer.

Like one purple popsicle.


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