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July, 2018. US brand Halo Top Ice Cream were launching in the UK within 8 weeks, and were looking for a Press Stunt to mark the moment to gain maximum exposure.

Their most popular flavour being 'Birthday Cake', their PR agency had sold in the concept of a giant ice cream tub 'landing' in a London landmark held aloft by thousands of standard birthday party sized balloons.

The stunt would be complimented by an ice cream bar, giving away thousands of free samples to passersby on a hot July day.

Disney's 'UP' had been referenced, and previous approaches to recreate it with hot air balloons and multiple helium balloons.

Beautiful Wonder was engaged to carry out a Feasibility Study to assess the following:

i) Could this stunt be realised safely to a high standard.? Assess pros and cons and suitability of all approaches and methods to recreate the mass of balloons. 

ii) Short list location options best suited to Production's criteria, whilst offering the best photo opportunity and greatest footfall.

iii) Determine lead time and production costs. 

and iv) provisional Risk Assessment/Method statement documentation.

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1. The Feasibility Study for this brief was a particularly complicated and intricate process. 

As well as BW's most senior project supervisors, in order to cover the numerous public safety risks, our team comprised additional experts and independent specialists; Construction Chief, Structural Engineer, Hot Air & Helium Balloonists, and an Event Safety Officer.

2. (More predictable) Indoor activation options were declined citing preference for an outdoor 'blue sky' hero shot, with a London landmark as paramount. Potters Field chosen for Tower Bridge backdrop.

3. Potential routes (above) of i) hot air balloon surface printed with balloons, and ii) fewer larger spherical weather balloons, were declined.

Instead, standard 16" latex balloons were the chosen look and feel to align with 'Birthday Cake'. 

4. Weather conditions were clearly pivotal to this stunt. Following the Beaumont Scale used for ballooning, max. wind speeds of 8-12mph were stipulated in order to determine if the activity could proceed on the given date or when agreed contingency plans would need to be implemented during the day should the conditions change.


5. Forecast weather for the date was 6-9mph wind, 25-30°.

6. Construction:

- Pre-visuals (Left) determined Halo tub to be 3m high for visual impact.

- Reverse engineered construction design, determined 65kg was lowest weight of 3m structure that would withstand strains put upon it by the balloons.

- A single 16" latex balloon calculated to lose 10-20% volume and lift capacity over 2-3 hrs in 30° heat.

- maximum Lift capacity of each balloon = 29g. Total of 2700 balloons required to lift 65kg (+10% for positive buoyancy).

- An internal suspension system of mountaineering rope was fitted inside the Halo tub, and tethered directly to concrete ballast on ground. 4 tonnes calculated on ground to prevent escape of balloons into air space.

- Balloon crew of 12 to inflate balloons and gather into 54 bundles of 50, inflated and tethered to bungee cradle over 4 hours.

- Refrigerated Ice Cream Bar assembled adjacent to Tub to service giveaways to public.




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A hugely popular event, drawing in large

crowds. Passersby and Ice Cream Bar

queuers enjoyed the spectacle of

the tub and balloons being assembled

and raised aloft.

Thousands of Halo Top samples enjoyed.

Despite safety contingency plan

'grounding' the Tub due to 15-20mph

winds, good press coverage

was achieved. Strong SM traffic recorded.

Tub was 95% recycled upon recycling.

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