Carvel Ads Return To A Happier Time

Carvel serves up more nostalgia—remember founder Tom Carvel?—in its latest campaign. But this year, the company seeks to cut costs and increase the number of its locations by using direct response, a company executive said.

Carvel decided to spend its estimated $2 million media budget solely in DRTV because of “substantial cost savings in conjunction with aggressively expanding the Carvel brand through franchising,” said Gary Bales, vp of marketing at the Atlanta-based ice-cream chain.

A 30-second spot from Atlanta independent Fletcher Martin Ewing opens with footage of the gravelly voiced Carvel from a 1970s TV spot. It cuts to a father hosting his young son’s birthday party. The agency has stressed nostalgia for several years. But now the spot ends with a 1-800 number where viewers can get information about franchise sales.

Carvel, a largely eastern U.S. player, has about 400 stores and sales of $120 million in 2002, the last year for which figures were available. In comparison, ice-cream giant Dairy Queen garnered $2.5 billion in sales at almost 5,000 stores, according to Chicago consultancy Technomics.

Using DRTV nearly doubles Carvel’s rating points and frequency, said Beth Vendice, svp, account director at Marlborough, Mass.-based Advanced Results Marketing, which handled Carvel’s media buy.

The spots are airing on cable and network in a few key markets this week, including New York, Phoenix, Boston and Miami. A national rollout may follow.

Last year, Carvel spent slightly more than $1 million on advertising, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.