Years ago, before they were bought up and moved all of their marketing back east, my company Mustang Marketing used to handle part of the Baskin-Robbins account. We did most of our work for their international side, but also helped out with some domestic campaigns and projects as well. It offered all kinds of benefits, not the least of which was their corporate lobby that had free ice cream waiting at every visit. Plus, the kids loved dad “working for Baskin-Robbins!” Every time we’d drive by a store, they’d be able to point a poster or something else we had done for them with excitement. They especially enjoyed doing that if their friends were with us.
But the best part of working with Baskin-Robbins was the annual visit to the “shake lab.” A couple of us would get invited into their laboratory to work with their product development team. We focused a lot of energy and resources into shakes on the international side, and the marketing people at Baskin-Robbins wanted us to better understand the shake development process. Plus, just maybe, we’d come up with something good.
So, we’d head to the lab for the day and they would make up any shake we asked them to. The only limitations were the flavors available. I learned a few things. One, a chocolate shake is made with one scoop of chocolate and two scoops of vanilla (all shakes are made with three scoops), something I figured to fix right away.
So I ordered three scoops of chocolate (no vanilla) shake, and was told in advance that it wouldn’t work, but asked for it anyway. They were right. It didn’t work.
We tried every combination we could think of. Mixing fruit flavors together, adding mint to traditional flavors, completely new ideas and variations on already successful shakes. Most were a complete bomb. I didn’t think you could ruin a shake, but yep, you could. I also learned, much to my surprise, that it really is a science, as well as an art, to create a good shake. However, about once a year, we would hit something that worked and might even have made it into the rotation.