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Ben & Jerry’s Crowdsourcing Ice Cream Flavors
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Ben & Jerry’s Crowdsourcing Ice Cream Flavors

The next few weeks will be a delight for crowdsourcing enthusiasts with a sweet tooth. Ben & Jerry’s, the popular ice cream maker, recently launched its ‘City Churned’ campaign, which allows denizens of five U.S. cities to create unique flavors.

The participating cities are Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York, Portland, and Seattle. Those who participate are asked to vote on different pairings of flavors – caramel versus fudge, for example.

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In each city, Ben & Jerry’s is partnering with foodies’ favorite local spots to ensure that the flavors actually reflect the cities they come from. In New York, where your correspondent is based, the partners are Liddabit Sweets, Spoonable Caramels, and Sixpoint Brewery.

Users can go online to the City Churned portal and choose their favorite flavors. The deadlines for each city vary – voting in D.C., for example, ends in just two days. San Francisco’s deadline is next (at the end of the month) followed by New York, Portland, and Seattle.

In addition to the actual voting, Ben & Jerry’s will also be tracking various indicators in the cities, which will also count as votes for the flavors. In NYC, for instance, marketers are tracking the number of people who hail uptown versus downtown cabs, which represent peppermint and fair-trade vanilla, respectively. There’s also a social media component, as participants can tweet out potential names for the flavors alongside their city’s hashtags. 

This campaign builds on a popular Ben & Jerry’s ‘Scoop Truck’ initiative – a food truck driving around cities in the summer, delivering free scoops. The truck is also being used as a voting platform for City Churned: people can throw out spoons in different recycling bins representing the various flavors.

A wide-reaching crowdsourcing initiative like this makes sense for a brand as popular as Ben & Jerry’s. Measuring a city’s ‘heartbeat’ by tracking things like cabs and subway trains is certainly novel, but will it dilute the crowd’s votes? We’ll have to stay tuned to find out. In the meantime, check out the video below, which highlights the New York campaign, and let us know what you think of City Churned in the comments.

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