Ben & Jerry's Scoops Up 50,000 iTunes Downloads As Giveaways

Hereis a new twist on giveaways: free iTunes Music Store downloads to mark the 26th annual Free Cone Day at ice cream retailer Ben & Jerryis with an online commitment from Americans to exercise their right to vote.

But like any promotion, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that you donit have to buy anything or visit a Ben & Jerryis store to get the free download; simply visit the retailers Web site and take an online "Oath to Vote" in the upcoming U.S. presidential election this coming November.

The bad news is that there will only be 50,000 iTunes downloads being given away and only redeemable to U.S. residents. But hey, nobody said this was going to be as big as the Pepsi giveaway.

The iTunes giveaway is part of the companyis annual promotion to thank its customers for their business. But this year, the company wanted to add a little something different.

"Essentially, the iTunes giveaway is adding a new dimension to the Free Cone Day experience," Chrystie Heimert, director of public relations for Ben & Jerryis, told The Mac Observer, Tuesday. "But the real goal here is to get people to either register to vote or reminding them that itis important to get to the polls (in November)."

At all participating Ben & Jerryis stores around the world, customers will get a free cup or cone of their favorite ice cream flavor from noon to 8:00 p.m., local time, on Tuesday, April 27th.

In the U.S., customers will not only be able to get a free ice cream cone at some 234 shops, but will also be able to register to vote through a partnership with the non-profit organization, Rock the Vote.

The goal, according to Heimert, is to increase consumer awareness among Americans that voter turnout is the key to democratic participation. Voter turnout in American presidential elections has been on a downward spiral for four decades, according to the U.S. Federal Election Commission. From a high of 62.8% participation in 1960, the percentage of eligible voters who actually voted dropped to below 50% in 1996.

In 2000, in the most closely contested presidential election in history, only 51% of all eligible voters turned out. Young people, aged 18 to 24, voted in even lower numbers: only 32% of them voted in 2000, a year in which a small number of votes could have changed the outcome.

The iTunes download offer, while part of the Free Cone Day promotion, will not take place on April 27th, but instead on Monday, April 26th beginning at 12:01 am Eastern Daylight Time, Heimert said. The first 50,000 entrants will receive a special code entitling them to a free song download from the Apple iTunes Music Store, but it is redeemable only in the United States.

When all the free downloads are gone, entrants can then register for a chance to win a sweepstakes with the grand prize of an Apple iPod, Apple iMac and a trip to Vermont to spend a day as an honorary Ben & Jerryis iFlavor Gurui to create a customized batch of their own ice cream, Heimert said.

"Weire not Pepsi," Heimert quipped. "I wish there was a million iTunes downloads to giveaway, but weill have to wait until next year for that," being careful to make sure everyone understood her comments should not be misconstrued as a future promise.

Heimert said the iTunes giveaway just made sense for Ben & Jerryis.

"I think the brands - Ben & Jerryis and Apple - are a lot alike," Heimert commented. "There are certainly a lot of the same asperations between these two companies. We have a long history with Macs in our Web team and design department where they all use Macs and there is a deep affinity within our company for the Apple brand."

Heimert said Ben & Jerryis has worked with Apple on numerous other promotions in the past and Apple was very open to doing the iTunes giveaway.

"When we got to thinking about how we could promote Free Cone Day, we just thought about involving Apple," she said.

"And they said, iSure. Weid love to work with youi. Apple is a great company to work with on a promotion like this."