Icehouse Is Back Via Square One

Square One is relaunching Icehouse beer in the U.S. with an offbeat $20 million advertising campaign that has consumers doing some of the agency’s work. The new effort carries the tagline, “We’ll make the Icehouse. You make the ads.”

Last year, the Dallas agency posted television, radio and billboard ads inviting the public to send in ideas for commercials. In December, the shop produced 14 concepts from a total of 2,500 entries submitted by amateur scriptwriters and would-be directors.

The result: a rotation of eight intentionally low-budget spots, ranging from a real-life marriage proposal cum beer endorsement to a demonstration of “extreme tap dancing.”

One memorable spot consists entirely of footage of a packed school of catfish, moving their lips and apparently chanting, “Icehouse, Icehouse.”

Each spot begins and ends with two Icehouse brewery workers, who introduce and then comment on the home-video-style segments.

The spots began running in five Southeast markets in mid-January. Media expenditures on the brand by parent company Miller Brewing Co. are up significantly from the $1 million spent last year, according to CMR, and from the $9 million spent in 2000.

Square One account director Jesse Bayer said Icehouse has changed its positioning from a specialty brew in the “ice” category to a regular full-calorie beer.

“They asked us what we could do with a [lower] budget with the goal of reconnecting with our consumer base,” Bayer said.