Turkey Hill Makes a Case for ‘Timeless’ Ice Cream

Turkey Hill has a lot on its plate. The nation’s fourth largest premium ice cream maker introduced ice cream cakes earlier this spring, and is in the process of churning out more goodies. The food marketer also is kicking off a new campaign later this month to spotlight new flavors like Praline Pecan Paradise. The ads, via Pavone, Harrisburg, Pa., focus on Turkey Hill’s “timeless good values” within a Lancaster County school play setting. (One spot shows a girl and her “pa” naming the ice cream “Turkey Hill” as sunlight beams on a turkey standing atop a hill.) Spots like these enforce the “hard work, authenticity, family, community and fun” behind the brand, said Pavone’s executive creative director Mark Richwine (pictured right below). Richwine and Melissa Mattilio, marketing manager of Turkey Hill Dairy (pictured left below), recently chatted with Brandweek about what’s driving the ice cream category and how Turkey Hill is innovating scoop after scoop despite an economic downturn. Some excerpts from this conversation follow:

Brandweek: Turkey Hill is introducing a whole lineup of products in a down economy. Is there still demand for ice cream and other sweet treats in a recession?
Melissa Mattilio: Absolutely. In fact, research has shown that staple products like ice cream aren’t as affected as much as you might think. In an economic climate where people need to cut down on unnecessary spending, little pleasures like a bowl of your favorite ice cream are often the last things to go. In times like these, consumers look for premium quality products at a value and that’s what the Turkey Hill brand is [about].

BW: How are you marketing the new ice cream cakes? Is consumption around these new products typically during birthday occasions or, what are some other popular uses for these cakes?
MM: Anecdotally, we’re finding ice cream cakes seem to have a strong appeal with [consumers who are a bit younger] than our usual customer. There is a whole generation of “twentysomethings” who grew up eating ice cream cakes and are interested in the category. They are starting to celebrate moments in their own families’ lives. Our approach to marketing ice cream cakes is to position them as the perfect way to celebrate any and all of life’s occasions. The cakes are a perfect way to celebrate when someone gets an “A” on a report card or hits a home run. They’re also perfect for the office to celebrate a promotion or a birthday (or even just a Friday). Our sense is any day is a good day for ice cream cake. The initial sales numbers have been phenomenal and it looks as though our consumers are just as happy to celebrate life’s little occasions as we are.

BW: Turkey Hill and Häagen-Dazs both have all natural ice cream lines. (The former’s comes in flavors like coffee, vanilla bean and Neapolitan. Häagen-Dazs’s “Five” line consists of ice cream made of only five ingredients.) Is that where the category is headed?

MM: All natural is one of the directions the frozen dessert category is headed. Overall, consumers are looking for exactly what they want when they want it. We have seen the category become more and more diverse over the last 10 years. Consumers are looking for innovation in both flavors and items.

Premium ice cream is still the majority of the category, but shoppers are looking for what’s new and what’s hot—the next experience. All natural products have a place in the market, as there is an ongoing trend among some consumers looking for pure, all natural products. Turkey Hill’s All Natural Recipe product line was started 10 years ago and is just that—cream, milk and sugar. The product line currently features six flavors and you can find them in a black package. We also tie the product back to part of our brand essence, which is “where we make it is why it’s good.” When you purchase any All Natural Recipe flavor, five cents from each container sold is donated to the Lancaster Farmland Trust, which works to preserve the treasured farmlands of Lancaster County for future generations. It’s our way of ensuring there will always be enough Lancaster County goodness to share.

BW: New Turkey Hill spots breaking this month focus on the “timeless” concept. How did you arrive at that angle?
Mark Richwine: Because Turkey Hill is based in Lancaster County, Pa., the brand has a unique heritage and authenticity. But a simple, “old fashioned” message doesn’t completely capture the essence of the brand. Just like the Lancaster County region, the brand is alive and well today—it’s not all about past history and accomplishments. So our branding focuses on the values that are as important today as they were when Turkey Hill began as a small family dairy.

BW: What makes this message appealing to consumers?

MR: This campaign is built to be an invitation for people to get to know Turkey Hill Dairy better. We believe authenticity is in demand more than ever among consumers, and from what we hear through research and Turkey Hill’s loyal following, people appreciate that in the brand and taste it in the products.

At Pavone, we developed a variety of concepts to express the “timeless goodness” of Turkey Hill Dairy ice cream. But we all agreed that this creative direction captured all of the timelessly good values we want to communicate – hard work, authenticity, family, community and fun – in a way that’s universally accessible.

Of course, on a surface level, these TV spots capture attention and connect with audiences immediately with vibrant sets and even more vibrant (and cute): “real kids.” But on a deeper level, each scene represents stories and values at the heart of the brand and Turkey Hill products.