From one ice-cream lover to another, nobody creates an experience like Haagen-Dazs

From one ice-cream lover to another, nobody creates an experience like Haagen-Dazs

“Fasten your seatbelts; it’s time to live a little”

What can we say – Haagen-Dazs has smashed it over the past few months. The brand, and team behind it, have always been known for their energy and creativity and boy did they deliver, possibly when we needed ice-cream the most!

Health and safety are, as always, priority no.1 so when it comes to experiential marketing, we’ve seen a real shift in how we can engage with our audience. Partnering with Secret Cinema in March 2020 for their Secret-Sofa campaign, Haagen-Dazs has successfully navigated this new age of brand experience, delivering engaging and memorable experiences to their customers’ front doors, without compromising their wellbeing.

As one of the first brands to produce a “socially-distanced” activation that packed a punch, it’s no surprise that they took the internet by storm. By collaborating with their favourite influencers from Instagram and TikTok, and working with Secret Cinema to create an authentic “going to the movies” experience, their “Haag-indoors” initiative became the talk of the town, earning them the Time Out’s Time In ‘Lockdown Champion Award’ in the Arts and Entertainment Saviours section for the best virtual film club.

With many of us organising staycations this summer, Haagen-Dazs and Secret Cinema have taken it one step further with their Drive-In in collaboration with Goodwood Festival in West Sussex. Our Exceptional Experiences guru and event manager, Natalie Whittaker, went to scope it out!

What did the event look like?

After driving into the arena at Goodwood, straight away you’re met with bubbly staff in bright coloured outfits, ready to welcome you and scan your ticket. It’s been so long since any of us have really been out so, at this point, you can already feel the excitement building, from kids bouncing around in the back of the car to adults driving a sensible-looking vehicle but head to toe in full-on fancy dress.

"What country, friend, is this?" sign

Around the corner is the speaker collection point. Each car receives its own bright yellow boom box to take the atmosphere up a notch and really give you the movie-quality experience. From the moment you switch it on, be prepared to be entertained. Haagen-Dazs and Secret Cinema have effectively organised an interactive game show in the hour run-up to the film, with presenters, ‘Frankie and the Starlights’, chatting away on the big screen and through your speakers whilst whizzing around between the cars and getting everyone involved. Individual zoom logins meant that some cars got the movie-star treatment, finding themselves up in lights! Great fun and created a lovely, inclusive atmosphere.

man spinning "car twister" board on big screenGames included voting for your favourite movie anthem, famous theme songs were played and you had to flicker your headlights to vote, which despite including some “absolute bangers” was won, overwhelmingly, by ‘Singing in the Rain’. I think we can put that down to the classic British summer weather! There was also, Natalie’s favourite, Car Twister! As each car got tangled up in “right hand on the dashboard” and “left foot on the steering wheel”, the camera crew must have had a real laugh – everyone else certainly did, seeing the silliness from other cars on the main screen!

The classic diner-style menu was a joy, featuring burgers, hotdogs and fries but made from premium produce featured at Goodwood. After Natalie opted for the delicious new Haagen-Dazs flavour, Speculoos Caramel Biscuit and Cream, the countdown to the film began. It’s escapism at its finest, a real immersive movie experience!

What’s that? How did they make it an immersive experience when everyone’s tucked away in their cars?

Our main takeaway was the ingenious use of videography and technology to bring everyone in on the party. Think a mixture of a classic game show and the “kiss-cam” at American sporting events! Everyone was provided with a zoom login, connecting them to an event wide zoom call which was broadcast on the big screens.

During the games, producers we’re busily selecting different users to focus on, while camera crews, deployed throughout the parking area, were capturing everyone joining in – documentary-style! Seeing other people letting loose and having a good time encouraged other people to join in and have fun, and before you knew it every single car was taking part.

Social distancing and safety measures were in place from the get-go but were integrated into the overall experience so seamlessly, it was easy to forget the current global climate and enjoy the experience in its own right.

“It was all so well done and so cool to see lots of great interaction with the audience, especially on zoom,” says Natalie, Exceptional Experiences Event Manager. “Obviously all was COVID safe anyway, but by being in your car you could just focus on the fun which I think is really important.”

What was the best bit?

Aside from the ice-cream (which always takes the top spot for us), it has to be the attention to detail. They’d thought of everything! Even the hand sanitizer was in big “gas-station” style pumps to keep with the theme. Driving out, all you could see was huge grins on everyone’s faces and overall it was a brilliant day out. What a perfect brand experience leaving a lasting impression on their audience. Bravo Haagen-Dazs and Secret Cinema! We loved it!


Did you enjoy that? Check out some of our speaker Q&As and dive a bit deeper in the world of experiential!

The Exceptional Experiences content team keeping you up-to-date with everything that's going on in the industry. Our favourite brand activations are: anything that includes free tastings!

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