TRG Creates a Cool Shooting Environment for SMITH's Ice Cream

"We’ve always trusted the quality of work that TRG delivers on photography projects. We were looking for something unique with this packaging project to capture our vision for the brand position, which is ‘Tradition that you can taste.’ There are some packages that you’ll see where the food doesn’t feel very natural, where it seems forced, fake, or artificial. We didn’t want the SMITH's ice cream to be made from fondant or mashed potatoes or anything; we wanted the real ice cream. We wanted to capture it with that little bit of melt or drip to give it this appetite appeal and we knew that we could trust TRG to deliver on that."

Jeff Monter, Principal of Creative Services at Innis Maggiore Group, Inc

TRG Creates a Cool Shooting Environment for SMITH's Ice Cream

The Clients

SmithFoods is a proud supplier and manufacturer of quality dairy products. The Orrville, Ohio-based company is behind multiple brands, including SMITH’S, Ruggles, Artisa, and Ajoy. SmithFoods worked with positioning agency Innis Magiore to re-brand their various product lines around the theme "Tradition you can taste," so SmithFoods was in need of new photography for packaging redesigns. For this project, we were hired to photograph all 24 flavors of their SMITH's ice cream line.

Founded more than 40 years ago in Canton, Ohio, Innis Maggiore remains independently owned, and today is ranked in the top 10 percent of the nation's agencies. The Canton, Ohio ad agency was founded in 1974, with growth for their clients steady and strong ever since — particularly since the appointment of Dick Maggiore as the agency's president in 1989. The mid-1990s marked an acceleration of national business, as Innis Maggiore began to build its reputation as the nation's leading positioning agency fashioning actionable strategies and creative grounded in positioning strategy.

The Results

New packaging images for 24 different ice cream flavors.

The Challenges

Since SMITH's was changing the packaging for all of its ice cream flavors, we had to figure out how to efficiently and effectively photograph 24 different flavors. While we typically would only shoot three or four flavors at a time, we'd accommodate by stretching this photoshoot over a week-long period to fit in all the flavors in one project. SmithFoods and Innis Maggiore wanted to show off the real product instead of substituting some faux ice cream, so we needed to coordinate with a food stylist ro achieve that "real" look the client desired. We're pretty confident in our photography services, so all we needed was to have the ice cream delivered to our studio.

There was just one big problem: ice cream melts.

We were going to have multiple tubs of premium ice cream delivered to our studio during the summer. For this project to succeed, we would have to figure out a solution that would allow us to photograph 24 different types of ice cream without them turning into unappealing puddles on the floor. How did we manage to balance all these temperature needs and capture the realness of SMITH's ice cream? By keeping our cool and creating an environment where our photography team could work its magic.

How TRG Helped

We needed the ice cream to stay cold for the photoshoot, so we made a cold space in our studio for the photoshoot where our photographer and food stylist could work in the optimal conditions for ice cream. Our set builders went to work constructing a space made with two-by-four frames and a whole lot of visqueen to trap the cold air inside. AC units were placed inside this space to keep the area at the right temperature while the rest of the studio stayed at a normal, non-frigid level.

While this set was great for the photoshoot itself, we still needed some place to store hundreds of gallons of SMITH's ice cream during the week. Our kitchen freezer wasn't going to cut it, so we did some digging online and rented a mobile freezer for the week and sat it down by the temporary set. Our food stylist would then take out the flavor she needed and go to work making a perfect scoop for the photographer.

The scoops used for the packaging photos needed to be just right. Each scoop had to be the right shape and clearly show the contents of each flavor. If a scoop of SMITH's peanut butter crunch didn't show off enough of the peanut butter ribbon and crunch candy, our stylist would need to craft new scoops until we got an approval from the clients.Since we wanted to capture the realness of the products, each scoop needed to melt just slightly. We had heat guns on hand to create this effect, and we could place the hero scoops in a freezer if things ever started to get a little exciting.

Once we got the right scoop for a flavor, our food stylist and photographer would get to work on shooting that scoop. We didn't want to force any more people into the cold room than necessary, so we set up monitors outside of the room. Every time we took a photo, it would show up on the client's TV monitor for their approval. Once we got a thumbs up on images for a flavor, we stored the "hero scoop" in a side freezer. This way our retouchers could use the scoop for reference and we had it on hand just in case we ever needed to shoot it again.

This process was repeated 24 times over the course of the week. Thanks to the temporary cold room setup, we were able to churn out amazing images that will be used for the next SMITH's packaging redesign. In the end, the only problem was that the project just happened to time up with an office weight loss challenge. We may have lost the challenge that week, but the project was a big winner thanks to our ability to come up with creative solutions for a pretty cool photoshoot.

What Would You Say About TRG?

"TRG took great care and made every effort to create a freezer room. They made it comfortable for both the client and us as an agency to view every step that was going on with the tabletop setup right outside the booth. The hospitality is always great at TRG. We just love being here because you make us feel at home.” 

Jeff Monter, Principal of Creative Services at Innis Maggiore Group, Inc

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