Magnum – Brilliant Brand Ideas 4

This is the 4th of our posts on brilliant brand ideas, this one by David Nichols, Managing Partner Global and our head of invention.

At $1.5bn, Magnum is the world’s biggest ice cream brand, sold in more than 50 countries worldwide.  It started out life as an experiment in getting real chocolate to stick to ice cream and ended up creating a global growth engine for its parent ‘heart’ brand Walls/Langnese/Kibon.  The recent successful launch into the vast and highly competitive US market has been a particular triumph.

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The brand is all about indulgence. However, the size of the product and the intensity of the chocolate taste create something that goes way beyond the simple satisfaction of a ‘big chocolate ice cream snack’ to a more intense, absorbing personal experience.  When you eat a Magnum, research uncovered, you undertake a whole journey; from anticipation and ‘undressing’ the product all the way through to losing yourself in the mouth-filling chocolatey-ness and stick licking finale.  Even the bits of loose chocolate that fall off the lip are an essential part of the experience and are featured every time a ‘bite shot’ is shown in their posters & TV ads.

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The brand idea that came out of this research – "For Pleasure Seekers" – captures this deeper emotional connection accurately and purposefully, propelling each brand team to take it further and further into indulgence.

Why do we think this brand idea works so well?

  • Based on a deep truth: People love chocolate, especially women!  Yes, it’s a cliché in confectionery, but no one had done it in ice cream.  By spending time and money digging into this area and crafting this insight so well, Magnum make it easy to write great briefs and generate great creative ideas
  • Built distinctive memory structure: They have been truly consistent with their brand iconography.  Sticking to a palette of colours and the capital ‘M’ has built a distinctive memory structure in people’s minds the world over.  Their recent global activation shows how this can reap rewards: My Magnum Pleasure Stores have been popping up in major cities creating bespoke hand-made Magnum’s for celebrities and queues of chocolate lovers alike.  Because of the global consistency in brand identity and positioning, this idea, once successful at Cannes, was easily rolled out to multiple countries creating PR stories that each local team could exploit.  Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 10.18.46
  • Sells as much in winter as summer: This fact is worth a blog posit by itself.  Before Magnum, all ice cream sales were directly affected by the outside temperature and ice cream ‘on a stick’ really didn’t sell beyond the summer months.  Magnum keeps selling all year round.  That is why it’s the biggest ice cream brand in the world.  How does it manage it?  Because it’s a chocolate brand not an ice cream brand.  People go nuts for the real Belgian chocolate more than the cold stuff inside.  And people eat chocolate all year round.
  • Versioning to stay fresh: Magnum regularly bring out new variants that are all a ‘riff’ on the central theme of personal pleasure, not just new flavours.  The core variants we know and love stay the same, but each season has new news to keep us interested. ; the ‘7 Deadly Sins’ limited edition range is one of my favourites.

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Magnum has create a distinctive brand and repeatedly refreshed it, whilst staying true to its brand idea and properties.  It has fought off copycats, held its premium pricing and successfully launched in China, America and around the world.  It has done this in a category plagued with cheap local players, complex distribution and low margins.  It is a great example of how a brand idea can help a brand lead a category and reap the rewards.