What is the Ice Cream Museum?
The Instagram photos from the LA museum are colorful and playful. Since it’s LA opening I have wanted to go but could never find a ticket available when I was in town.
The opening in Miami was different. Somehow I was able to get a ticket during preview week at Art Basel. Call it fate, or luck. I just happened upon the option and I purchased three tickets. One for me, my daughter and my husband. I called it my birthday present.
I felt like a celebrity when we arrived at the Art Deco building with its pink palm trees and privacy ropes. Well-dressed bloggers were clicking their high-heeled feet, flashing their iPhones and smiling their way past the security guards.
As I was about to enter, a woman came to the guard and begged to be let into the building. She wasn’t allowed. She didn’t have a ticket and no begging or big bucks could do the trick. I felt smug as I flashed my ID and lead my family into the gleaming building. I had the tickets.
We were met by a soothsayer dressed in a pink sequined head wrap. She jokingly read our fortune and then let us pass to a pink room with floors made of gold glitter. We were fed soft serve ice cream and Rosé wine. The glamoratti were gliding around making small talk and looking at their phones. My Guatemalan husband felt compelled to sway his hips to the Latin tune while my daughter twirled.
I anticipated a bit of ice cream lore as a guide emerged directing us to an outdoor courtyard. Instead all we heard were the rules: move forward, don’t go backwards. Have fun.
Okay, got it. I started snapping photos with my phone enroute to our first destination. Walls and stairs were painted neon pink, turquoise and yellow. It was pretty and playful, just like the Instagram photos. I loved the colors.
The first room had giant pink plastic floor fans that looked like soft serve ice cream cones. The resident docent gave us more rules. Don’t touch the fans and lets dance! My daughter moved to the beat. Everyone started snapping photos of each other posing with the fans. Not to miss out, I did the same and took some great Boomerangs of my daughter. My husband stood there with a puzzled expression.
Slowly everyone filtered into the next room. I anticipated a bit of information about ice cream after the fun intro but instead more rules were announced: don’t touch the pink plastic palm trees and yes you can sit on the banana swing. We were offered a chocolate covered frozen banana on a stick. I took one. It was awkward to eat among the jet-setters but delicious none the less.
After the banana swing the next room held less visual appeal but revealed an important clue to the museum’s purpose. We were first asked to come up with an inventive ice cream flavor name. The docent for this room handed us melted ice-cream in a milk carton and informed me that it was not milk. She said it was the museum’s own ice cream. Surprised I asked if they had an ice cream brand that they sold in stores. She replied slyly— not yet.
Aha! That is when the lights clicked on and the purpose of the “museum” dawned on me. This entire project is a brilliant marketing scheme. There is no museum with lofty goals of teaching the public about ice cream history here. Instead, this neon-drenched experience is a content-driven photo-op for selfie-loving bloggers. It provides a stunning visual platform on which bloggers and the general public unknowingly promote a soon-to-be-released product to their millions of admiring followers.
The concept is brilliant. It’s a pop-up shop on steroids and in mythical proportions.
Room 4, 5, and 6 provided equally gleaming photo ops with sand castles, plastic balls on sticks, ping pong tables, hoola-hoops and more candy and ice cream to enjoy. My daughter was having a blast and my husband had given up understanding the concept. He was just having fun.
We finally made it to the last and perhaps most photographed of the museum’s rooms, the giant swimming pool filled with plastic sprinkles. I decided to just enjoy the ride as the whole thing had taken on silly and strange proportions. I slid my shoes off and dipped my entire body into the plastic pool. We giggled with the remaining visitors and took our final pictures.
Overall, the Museum of Ice Cream was a lighthearted, treat-filled experience. I enjoyed it, and I upped my savvy in the social media marketing department. I had come expecting a traditional museum and I left, instead, with an education in the new wave of marketing-- not to mention a satisfied sweet tooth plus great pictures of my daughter and hubby that can fill my Instagram account for days.
Since this was a taste of the future of marketing, hopefully I will be better equipped to recognize the tactic when I see it again. That way I can just enjoy swinging on the banana and not worry so much about learning about ice cream, if you know what I mean.