Soft Republick: new ice cream concept from Wall’s and I-AM for the global market

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Soft Republick is the extraordinary new ice cream brand proposition from Unilever-owned Wall’s. Designed by leading international customer experience agency, I-AM, Soft Republick is setting out to disrupt and energise the global soft ice market, with the concept ‘Where art meets ice cream’.

This summer, Brighton and Istanbul play host to a range of Soft Republick experiences that encourage self-expression, celebrate individuality and championcreativity. From full stores and kiosks to the world’s coolest ice cream vans.

The brand concept aims to provide a vibrant, positive force for good in unsettling times – bringing local communities together over the simple joy of ‘MessyCreativity’ in the form of the delicious artistic medium of soft ice & unrestrained toppings.

London-based I-AM (www.i-amonline.com) worked with a dedicated Unilever team given license to ‘think and act like a start-up’.

This collaboration developed the overall Soft Republick brand strategy from positioning, customer profiling, digital and physical communications, coming together as the complete brand experience. Initially  trialed  as  a  pop-up  in  London’s  Spitalfields in summer 2017, this  ice  cream  revolution  is  now beingscaled-up across the globe. To do this, I-AM further developed the brand – from product range to communications assets and a wider ‘ecosystem’ of outlets,supported by an awareness-building strategy fueled by the brand’s core purpose of ‘Championing Creativity’. This grassroots marketing approach engages withthe artist community in the local markets, recruiting them to decorate the stores and vans and providing the artists with new platforms for their work. Theirresistible visual impact created by the combination of the unusual new ice cream products, the art and local ‘activation’ events, creates fuel for social mediaand word-of-mouth, building awareness and excitement in the market, in a fun and authentic manner.

For 2018’s simultaneous launch in global markets, Brighton in the UK and Istanbul in Turkey were selected as the locations to develop the ‘ecosystems’ –with the strategy of launching, evaluating and adapting the flexible brand model in live sites, in order to provide a solid base for potential future expansion.

Flexibility was built into the brand from its very creation, seen in the highly adaptable ‘kit of parts’ of formats and visual assets, and their varying look and feelthrough the range of art styles. The product menu, while based on soft ice, offers an unlimited range of creative permutations, from spray-art coloured sauces, totoppings and dustings, with a range of creative formats other than cones, including the ‘Soft Dog’. The flagship ice cream bar offers a flexible art gallery chill outand events space, there’s a curated offer at smaller kiosks based in transport hubs and high footfall areas, a mobile reinvention of the traditional ice cream van anda portable plug in ice cream machine that allows flexible partnerships, with local cafes and coffee shops.

Targeting a wide customer demographic of older millennials with young children, as well as the Gen Z trendsetters the brand was initially targeted at, I-AMhave broadened Soft Republick’s appeal – while retaining a cheeky, light heartedness and an alternative, creative spirit.

“I-AM was the perfect partner to help us create a sophisticated and innovative brand experience with flexible assets that could travel across Soft Republick’s ecosystem,” said Fernanda Costa, senior global brand manager, Walls, Unilever.

“It’s been really inspiring to design and deliver an entirely new product, brand and experience for Soft Republick through our collaboration with the Unileverteam – an idea that seems to embody many directional trends and shifts in society, such as what consumers now look for in terms of innovation, creativity,purpose and meaning in communities. The potential is limitless,” said Pete Champion, partner and creative strategy director, I-AM.