The unconventional ice cream company took an even less conventional take on advertising with a new spooky commercial to promote low-calorie pints. In the past, Halo Top’s marketing has been intensely positive, cheery, and product-focused. The spotlight has remained on the calorie counts, the creaminess, and the flavor varieties of the pints. Using these clever tactics and appealing to dieters across the nation, Halo Top managed to outsell top ice cream brands and rank number one in sales in 2017. It’s pretty clear: Halo Top is taking over.
Viewers in movie theaters across America are about to be freaked out by more than just their incurable addiction to the diet ice cream. For a minute and a half, movie-goers observe an elderly, innocent woman abducted by robots and force-fed one of our favorite desserts (if, of course, you can call Halo Top dessert).
“Humans require ice cream,” the sterile robots recite. The woman, captured and removed from her family, friends, and all humanity, is clothed in a white gown and spoon-fed creamy bites despite her anxious resistance. Confused as to what the commercial has to do with diet-friendly treats, observers of the ad are left chilled by more than just inviting gusts from the freezer aisle.
The concept behind the ad is simple: Halo Top aims to entertain, rather than advertise. They want to be known as a company that cares more about their viewers and less about their product, providing an entertaining experience that has no promotional value to the ice cream itself whatsoever.
“We do think traditional commercials can be a little bit stale and that people tune out on those a bit,” says Justin Woolverton, CEO of Halo Top. “I think people are just more interested these days in just something that's just plain interesting, not something that's too heavily branded.” The ice cream featured in the short film is unappealingly bland — a creamy, white, unidentifiable blob, shoved into the helpless actress’s mouth. Nothing about the film makes you want ice cream, and nothing about it sounds desirable at the film’s end.
“It's almost like an anti-ad,” says Woolverton. “If anything it portrays ice cream a little negatively.” We would agree — but the ad’s connotation is not the first time Halo Top has received criticism. Some critics address Halo Top’s clever appeal to diet culture. The company has been accused of cleverly exploiting an unhealthy urge of weight-struggling Americans to consume an entire pint of anything, regardless of the taste. Does Halo Top really satisfy us like ice cream does at all, or are we all being coerced into depriving ourselves? We tasted Halo Top’s new pints, and we have to say — the reviews were mixed.