Celebrating Detroit’s Birthday with Free Ice Cream

Identity positions Hudsonville Ice Cream as the best treat to celebrate the Motor City’s founding anniversary

Our Approach

What better way to celebrate a birthday than with ice cream? This concept was at the core of Identity’s activation plan for Hudsonville Ice Cream as the brand looked to build greater awareness and brand equity in Detroit. Capitalizing on the opportunity to create a fun and newsworthy moment for Hudsonville Ice Cream, Identity selected Detroit’s birthday – July 24 – to infuse the genuine goodness of the West Michigan-based ice cream brand into the city.

An event with free ice cream for Detroit’s birthday would create a memorable buzz in the city, allowing Detroiters to associate the brand with their hometown and with a birthday celebration. And, there was a clear runway to celebrate the city’s founding date of July 24, 1701, as there were few other events planned for this anniversary.

While the 2017 event was a success, the 2018 celebration required additional creativity to execute this activation, since Hudsonville Ice Cream’s sample cups were no longer available for the ice cream distribution. To counter this change, Identity coordinated with the Hudsonville Ice Cream team and the City of Detroit to ensure dip cabinets could be transported into Cadillac Square. This required a temporary food permit through the local health department, as well as a deeper look at power sources in the park.

Identity engaged WNIC, a local iHeartRadio station, for pre-event promotion as well as on-site support. Jay Towers from WNIC was the voice of the radio campaign and attended the event to meet fans, while personalities from other local iHeartRadio stations supported the event as celebrity scoopers. This ensured the team had the manpower to accommodate the hundreds of Detroiters and ice cream lovers who stopped by the event.

The 2018 edition of Hudsonville Ice Cream’s Detroit Birthday Bash also included a special perk: the first tasting opportunity for a new flavor in the brand’s Michigan Artisan Collection. The collection was a new campaign for 2018, and Bowerman’s Blueberry Donut was the first small batch flavor created, introduced especially for the birthday event.

In addition to coordinating the logistics of the event, Identity managed all media and digital visibility surrounding the event. This led to 27 media mentions reaching a potential audience size of 60 million, with Detroit News and a shared camera from WXYZ and WJBK on site. The Facebook event campaign garnered interest from 2,867 people who indicated they were interested in attending. The event also inspired nearly 200 public posts online from influential organizations like the Detroit Free Press, WDIV Click on Detroit, WXYZ, Channel 95.5, Detroit Metro Times, Crain’s Detroit Business, CBS Detroit, the City of Detroit and more.

What We Did

Identity deployed the following strategies and tactics in order to achieve success:

  • Media Relations & Marketing

    • Strategy and Execution
    • Media Relations Outreach
    • Marketing
    • Event Management
    • Paid Media Coordination
  • Social Media

    • Blogger and Influencer Relations
    • Social Advertising


  • $90k+publicity value from Detroit-area media mentions
  • 227public social mentions
  • 5iHeartRadio celebrity scoopers on-site
  • 100sof scoops of ice cream served