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Behind the brand: Magnum – indulgent ice creams designed for pleasure

Before 1989, the market for ice cream sticks was mostly seasonal and for kids. A new brand called Magnum looked to change that. The handheld ice cream aimed at adults was designed to provide pleasure and indulgence. It’s delivered on that promise ever since.


How it started

In 1988, Langnese (Wall’s) in Germany began developing a product that would appeal to grown-up ice cream lovers, taking inspiration from one of its popular children’s ice cream sticks.

The team developed a handheld stick of delicious ice cream made from Madagascar vanilla and covered it with a luxurious coating designed by Belgian chocolate pioneers to provide a signature crack at first bite.

They called the new brand Magnum.

Officially launched in Germany in 1989, Magnum quickly went on to be sold in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.

As President of Ice Cream Matt Close told CNN Business: “Unilever ‘got serious’ about ice cream when it launched Magnum. Suddenly, we moved from being a kind of kids’ seaside treat to something that people were eating in many more locations.”

How it’s going

Today, Magnum enjoys consistent, strong growth. It’s sold in more than 80 countries around the world and is a market-leading ice cream brand in Europe.

Creating a successful ice cream brand for ‘grown-ups’ opened up a new marketplace where flavour, indulgence and pleasure were key.

In 2017, cracking chocolate ice cream tubs were added to the portfolio with packaging specifically designed to encourage consumers to squeeze the tub before opening to hear the crack of the thick Magnum chocolate shell.

In 2018, vegan versions of Classic and Almond Magnums were launched with the promise of 100% pleasure. Both went on to win Best Ice Cream at the PETA Vegan Food Awards in 2019.

In 2019, the brand debuted its Double range crafted for ‘multiple layers of decadence’ in the US.

In 2020, Magnum introduced consumers to the world’s fourth flavour of chocolate – ruby chocolate. Made with ruby cocoa beans and gorgeously pink in colour, it was used to provide an indulgent coating to Magnum Ruby, featuring white chocolate ice cream enriched with a raspberry sauce swirl.

In 2021, the launch of Magnum Double Gold Caramel Billionaire followed, in a stick format and tub (and under 250 calories per serving). Described as “the most indulgent Magnum yet”, the team worked with global pop star Miley Cyrus to celebrate the fact that ‘pleasure has more than one layer’.

2022 saw Remixes of Magnum Classics with complementary combinations added to classic flavours, bringing attention to the brand from a new Gen Z consumer base (see below).

And there is more to come. Check out ‘Brand new ideas’ below for more of Magnum’s deliciously indulgent innovations.

The purpose that powers it

Magnum believes in creating products that allow people to indulge responsibly.

As part of its Cocoa Strategy, the brand aims to empower 5,000 women in cocoa farming communities, socially and economically, by 2025. As part of its AWA by Magnum, programme the brand is also investing €25 million in female-focused initiatives with NGO partners to reach this goal.

As a signatory to the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, Magnum has also publicly committed to eliminating deforestation and forest degradation and has pledged to plant 465,000 trees in the Ivory Coast .

In terms of ingredients, 100% of the vanilla extract comes from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms and over 98% of Magnum cocoa beans are sustainably sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms and the brand is working hard to make it 100% soon.

Magnum has worked hard to ensure that its packaging is sustainable too. Ice cream sticks are made from certified sustainable wood, its multi-pack cartons are made from recycled paper, and it was the first ice cream brand to use recycled polypropylene plastic in its tubs.

Brand new ideas

1. Magnum Minis

Some 60% of Gen Z and millennials cannot get through the day without a snack. The launch of Magnum Vegan Minis provided consumers with an indulgent snack-sized ice cream and bite-sized introduction to a plant-based version of the brand. In 2023, two new products are being added to the range – Mini Double Caramel Almond and Magnum Mini Double Gold Caramel Billionaire which are both 161 calories per stick.

2. Magnum in the metaverse

In June 2022 at Europe’s leading Metaverse festival, MET AMS in Amsterdam, Magnum unveiled its Magnum Pleasure Museum, showcasing original artwork from various creatives. It also simulated a future vending machine with quick commerce partner Deliveroo to showcase the potential ordering process for buying a Magnum ice cream in the metaverse and having it delivered to you in real life.

3. New Magnum Doubles Duo inspired by day and night

Ice cream is no longer just a summer, daytime treat. The message of Magnum’s 2023 limited-edition Doubles is that for ice cream lovers, day or night, pleasure is always on. The Magnum Double Sunlover teams coconut ice cream with a tangy mango and passionfruit swirl, white cracking chocolate and crispy coconut pieces. Magnum Starchaser Double is made of double-swirled popcorn and caramel-flavoured ice cream coated in caramel sauce, cracking milk chocolate and caramelised corn pieces, an ideal accompaniment for a night under the stars.

It might surprise you to learn...

How’s this for an anniversary celebration? To mark 25 years of Magnum, the brand created a limited-edition, silver-coated milk chocolate Magnum filled with Marc de Champagne flavoured ice cream and a Marc de Champagne swirl.

Iconic ads

1. 1996 Be True to Your Pleasure

To relaunch its Magnum Double, the brand created a powerful campaign encouraging people to ‘Be True to Your Pleasure’. Launched at Cannes, it featured a short film and interviews that celebrated gender diversity in all its form which had 1.3 million views in its first weekend.

2. 2022 The Making of AWA

To celebrate upscaling its empowerment programme for farming communities, Magnum created an avatar ambassador called AWA, inspired from the real-life portraits of 128 women cocoa farmers who took part in the initiative. Many of the participants reported an uplift in confidence and savings, and 74% successfully created an additional income stream to the one they receive from their cocoa harvest.

3. 2023 Magnum ‘Not Available in the Metaverse’

While the virtual world has its own appeal, there are still certain pleasures, like enjoying biting into a Magnum ice cream, that can only be found in the real world. The short film was showcased at Metaverse Fashion Week in Decentraland and features a virtual avatar called Luna and her journey to escape the metaverse in pursuit of the real-life pleasure of a Magnum ice cream.

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