Square One Produces Public’s Ideas for Icehouse

Square One is relaunching Icehouse beer in the U.S. with a wacky, $20 million advertising campaign that lets consumers do some of the agency’s work.

The new work 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 hilarious and 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 seemingly chanting “Icehouse, Icehouse.”

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

The spots began running in five Southeast markets in mid-January.

Media expenditures on the brand by parent company Miller Brewing are up significantly from the $1 million spent last year, according to CMR, as well as from the $9 million total in 2000.

Square One account director Jesse Bayer said that 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.

Miller executives also wanted “a very young approach,” he said, given that the beer’s consumers are the youngest of all its brands, with a bull’s-eye target aged 21-24.

The client could not be reached for comment at press time.

Square One will solicit a second round of commercial ideas and begin producing them in April.

“It’s a really fun campaign to work on,” said agency account supervisor Gina Shelton. “It’s rewarding for us to see all the response from consumers.”