News Article

Ice Cream Man Needs Sponsors For 2011

Words by Ice Cream Man

Photos by RETURNING;

Please see our 2011 Sponsorship Deck here and our online business portal here. Feel free to share with any companies or marketing departments that may be interested.

As I was walking home from playing some cribbage at the Ranch last night I had some time to think about where we’re at with Ice Cream Man and summer tour. Things aren’t looking great. Ben & Jerry’s and Popsicle are contributing oodles of free ice cream and pops, but we still have yet to land any financial sponsors for our trucks or Road Trippin’ video series.

Last week I was up in San Francisco slinging all over town and was reminded how awesome free ice cream is. It’s not that every treat we give away is the best ever, it’s the random smiles, giddiness, and innocence that comes from people when they either arrive at the truck or get a free ice cream. It had been a while since I had this reoccuring thought but it came to me again, “there’s no way we can make this many people happy and not have this work out.” You would think it might get old or repetitive but the actual moment of handing someone a free ice cream or to see them light up NEVER gets old, it’s proof that it can be better to give than to receive (I think mainly because we’re giving so many but most people only get one… if it were 1-1, I’d likely take the free cream)

So hear we are, six years in, having given away 325,000 free ice creams and in a very similar place that we have been before each summer tour. This was mainly what I was thinking about on my walk last night. Where did we go wrong? Where are we missing? How come it’s so hard to find paying sponsors and projects? Are we even going to be able to hit the road next week to sling at Sasquatch Festival in Washington? Is the video series that we (including the amazing help from Dig for Fire) have invested two years into gone for good? These were pretty sobering thoughts but they don’t really upset me or make me sad, they just keep me thinking about them.. I have to admit I’m pretty used to the instability and insecurity but I never thought things would be this tough after we have spent so much time building Ice Cream Man and everything we do and can do.

I don’t have too many answers to the questions above. I’ve thought about them for a while, especially while driving to and from Austin and San Fran but my conclusions are usually the same – “I don’t know.” There’s not that much I would have done differently (well… a handful of things, including building our website on wordpress early on). From the beginning we’ve always wanted and needed help. I had always hoped a day would come when we’d have folks that could help us with some management stuff, agents to find us sponsors, a publicist, and even more crew to build out mobile and location based apps so we could give away more ice cream to the public. Ideally we’d be able to bring in more money which we’d be able to compensate people with. We have had some great help along the way from numerous people and companies (Doug and the JDI crew in Austin most recently) and we’ve always thanked them and stressed the importance they play into making ICM a sustainable business. Imagine you’re the best skateboarder in the world and you walk into a corporate office and ask for a million bucks… you’re not gonna get it. If you have a good agent, they’ll get you two million and take their cut. I can only sell ICM so much, I’m WAY too invested and personally attached to it. There’s not really a separation between my personal and ‘business’ life any more. On top of this, when we’re hard-up for money it’s hard to turn down anything so we end up under-selling or over-delivering and we still have trouble paying our bills. I’m all for bootstrapping (like our fellow Long Beachians point out in their accurate blog post here) but there comes a point where you get too buried or become so engulfed in what you’re doing that it’s hard to see or know what’s best. I’ve learned a hell-of-a-lot about what I’m not good at – most things involving money and finances – which is weird cuz I studied finanace and accounting in college. I’ve always known the importance of our crew who keep us going

Where to from here? Many people have offered to help over the years and we really appreciate it. We’ve never taken tips nor asked for money from individuals and we don’t intend to now, as much as a kickstarter project might allow us break away from the festival circuit and to create more ice cream socials around the country. Ice Cream Man has always been a for-profit business, even though we’re always struggling to stay above water. We’ve always believed there is a lot of value in what we offer in our sponsor and project packages. We gave away 17,000 free ice creams in Austin during SXSW, and 7,000 Wookies!. Think how much money went to sponsoring other parties that hold 500 or 1000 people and we reached TWENTY times as many attendees. For summer tour we can give away 100,000 free ice creams in a program that’s customized to fit a company’s needs. Two years ago we had PacSun on board and we gave away ice cream at dozens of their stores, skate parks, action sports events and contests, Warped Tour, company-HQ and much more. In a perfect world we’d either get some big bucks to roll out a kick-ass season of Road Trippin’ or we’d find a way to work with some new game, mobile, location-centric companies and skip most of the festivals and create ice cream socials all over the country. (imagine for a sec… there’s a mobile app that allows you to request a free ice cream social in your town… you can log in via twitter/fb/email enter your zip code, and once there’s enough people in your area who have requested a stop, BOOM, we roll up with free cream for everyone.) So much of online and virtual is free yet you rarely get what you want in the real/physical world without there being a catch. I believe this will change over time but it seems to be taking longer than I thought.

I’m not sure of the purpose of this post. I guess it’s good to let people know what we’re up to and where we’re at. And… obviously… if it helps us find some sponsors or projects for the summer and we can give away 100k+ free creams, then that would rule too. Right now I’m just gonna keep pluggin away on this computer and these emails and hope something magical happens, I believe in magic.

Good times…. always!

Please contact me if you have any ideas:

Check out our 2011 sponsorship deck here.

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