LAKELAND, Fla. - Peanuts and Cracker Jack won't be the only treats available at a Florida Marlins game this month. Fans also will be able to cool off with free samples of Publix Super Markets' private-label ice cream.
The ice cream will be distributed from a mobile-marketing unit designed to look like an old-fashioned ice cream truck. The vehicle will visit the July 15 game, along with about two dozen other community attractions this summer, including the Miami Sea Aquarium, South Beach and Orlando Science Center.
Publix is using the truck to improve awareness of its brand, spokeswoman Maria Brous said.
"Having a mobile ice cream parlor allows us to reach our Publix customers," she said.
Once the vehicle arrives at an event, a cart is set up to give away the samples. Manned by an outside company that Brous declined to name, the Mobile Ice Cream Parlor, as it's called, distributes samples of and 50-cent coupons for Publix premium chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
Introduced in the early 1990s, the cookie dough ice cream is the only flavor being sampled because it is one of the retailer's six banner products this year. Banner products are those that Publix chooses based on their popularity or newness, and are promoted via television and radio ads, Brous said.
The ice cream also was sampled for three hours at all Publix stores on June 17.
Recipes that contain the ice cream as an ingredient - including layer cake, banana split pie and filled puffs - are posted on the retailer's website.
The Publix ice cream cart is a great tie-in with the industry's traditional June and July ice cream and frozen novelties promotions, said Julie Henderson, spokeswoman for the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association. July is National Ice Cream Month, and summer is a key sales time for the treat, she said.
"In today's marketplace consumers are bombarded with messages. It is more important than ever to find unique ways to engage the customer," Henderson said. "The ice cream truck brings back a bit of nostalgia that is sure to be a hit with consumers."