In celebration of our 25 year anniversary, we asked some of our earliest clients to cast their minds back to their “first time” working with The Value Engineers. Here, Kees Van Der Graaf recalls the development of the fruity ice cream phenomenon, Boomy.
In 1988 the Unilever Ice Cream Researchers developed a great new technology. It was now possible to create an ice cream which could be truly 3 dimensional, with no need for any symmetries. It was basically an application of the injection molding technology from the plastics industry. The only thing that needed to happen was to find a product for which this technology could be the long awaited technical solution.
It was a perfect example of a total disconnect between research and marketing. Marketing had to dream up a concept using this unique and patented process. At the time I was Marketing Director of the Spanish ice cream business. We were known for our creativity, and got the task to launch a great concept exploiting the technical possibilities. As I worked with the Value Engineers in my Walls Meat days I called Paul Walton and shouted “help”. Paul and team did not need a lot of convincing to come to Barcelona to work on this mission Impossible. As we all know no bridge is too high for Paul.
After some initial briefing sessions, including a visit to Unilever Research, TVE came up with some great ideas, of which the one with 3 different fruits on a stick tested very well (see photo). The concept was further developed into a very strong complete marketing mix. Boomy was the name of a fruit eating monster, who would do anything to get his portion of this fruit ice cream. The target audience was young children. Boomy was reasonably priced. A cartoon character, lovely comics and a funny TVC supported the launch.
The launch went very well.
Too well. Unilever’s central marketing resources took over the international roll out, and started to tweak the concept without involving The Value Engineers or the Spanish company. The price went up, the positioning was extended to all ice cream consumers, and by doing so they ruined the concept. A great pity, that this piece of brilliant marketing was never given the chance to conquer the market.