Yarnell’s Heats Up Ice Cream War

Arkansas Creamery Answers Texas Rivals in Regional TV Skirmish
DALLAS-Competition for dessert freezer space in Southwest homes has brought an upsurge in the category’s regional advertising in recent months, most recently by Searcy, Ark.-based Yarnell’s Ice Cream.
The family-owned business is meeting the challenge of Texas competitors like Blue Bell and Blue Bunny ice creams in its key markets by introducing a new commercial, its first television advertising in five years. Yarnell’s annual ad budget is $1-2 million.
Via Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods in Little Rock, Ark., the commercial parlays Yarnell’s longstanding tagline, “Down-home goodness,” with the introduction of four new premium flavors hitting store shelves in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
In the 30-second television spot, two lazy men and a bored basset hound lounge on the front porch of a house until a Yarnell’s truck drives by, getting their attention. All three jump to their feet and begin chasing the ice cream truck.
Far from the laid-back Mayberry RFD atmosphere of the creamery’s commercial, said CJRW creative director Boyd Blackwood, “the fight for shelf space is pretty intense.”
Earlier this year, Blue Bell of Brenham, Texas, led off the ice cream wars with a humorous television spot about its products. The ad, a double-barreled assault of cuteness, featured a young girl and her small dog. That commercial, which also took a poke at The X-Files, was the first new television spot from Blue Bell in over two years.
Yarnell’s has traditionally produced its ads in-house, but chairman Rogers Yarnell re-cently decided to hire CJRW, the state’s largest agency, in order to “ramp it up a bit,” according to Blackwood.
Blackwood said the Yarnell’s commercial shoot was enhanced by an ad lib from the spot’s canine star, Laid-Back Jack. The porch pooch gave director David Scharff (of Dempsey Film Group) his unscripted bonus just as the cameras rolled.
“We put the camera on the dog and started rolling. Within seconds, he yawned. It was exactly what we were looking for,” joked Dan Lenehan, an account executive on the business. “He’s a wonderful actor.” ƒ