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Ice Cream Van hire pros and cons

By Gary Parker on Oct 14, 2022 9:54:00 AM

12 min read
British Airways Blue Ice Cream Van

The familiar jingle of the local Ice Cream Van is a sound that few people, young or old are likely to forget, and it’s been around for a very long time.

Ice Cream Vans first hit the streets in the early 1960s in the UK, after engineer Brian Whitby developed a new ‘Direct Drive System’ that allowed vendors to power their soft serve units to dispense ice cream using the engine.

Ever since then children and adults alike have grown accustomed to Ice Cream Vans, which have changed very little over the years.

This is something astute businesses are starting to take notice of, and as a result, Ice Cream Vans are more in demand than ever. After all, what better place to display an ad than on a vehicle we have trained ourselves to see?

With a long and positive history that transcends all demographics, this vehicle generates positive interest automatically, but does that make it the right vehicle for you?

In this article, we break down the pros and cons of Ice Cream Van hire, enabling you to find a best fit vehicle.



With over 70 years spent building up a nationwide fan base, it’s not hard to see the promotional pedigree in the beloved Ice Cream Van.


We’ve come to associate these vans with a pleasant reward (usually in the form of Mr Whippy), something that makes these vending vehicles stand out immediately when we are out and about.

Using an Ice Cream Van as part of a campaign then, has great benefits from an engagement standpoint. People are more likely to notice the vehicle, and therefore more likely to come and investigate, especially if your branding is on point.Stranger Things Blue Beige Ice Cream Van

If your campaign plays into the function of the vehicle, even better, as you are satisfying the reward people have been trained to expect when they see an Ice Cream Van.

Therefore if you are giving out some form of brand relevant ice cream, frozen yoghurt, milkshakes or other tasty treats and snacks you really can’t go wrong.

People will associate your brand with a good experience, and are therefore more likely to remember you in a positive light.

You don’t even have to serve ice cream if it isn’t on brand, our vintage vans have served up beauty products and hot foods for brands such as Charlotte Tilbury, Revlon, Greggs and Warburtons.


If you think the Ice Cream Van’s legacy might clash with your brand plans don’t worry; we have plenty of options in the fleet.

All our vintage vehicles our funky and attract attention at venues, and each has its own particular history. If irresistibility isn’t part of your campaign we have plenty of options that may suit you better.

The VW Pop-Up Camper is more of a free spirit, the Milk Float is a retrofuturistic British classic, the US Postal Van a tireless workhorse; analyse your options to find the vehicle or vehicles that best suit you.



At nearly 5 metres long, these Ice Cream Vans are large enough to be seen out on the road, whilst mobile enough to be logistically efficient.


Charlotte Tilbury Black Red Yellow Ice Cream VanThis vehicle is ideal for large-scale branding thanks to its large flat surfaces and boxy shape.

The Ice Cream Van does have plenty of windows, but we can wrap over these, so your design space won’t be restricted.

The Ice Cream Van is 360 degree brandable meaning we can brand every part of it to help you stand out.


If you do feel you need extra space our Airstreams are slightly larger, and our Exhibition Vehicles larger still.

If you need a smaller vehicle the VW Pop-Up Camper or Renault Estaffete are good vintage alternatives.



We have a range of different vintage and modern Ice Cream Vans available and a lot of customisation experience.


Our Ice Cream Vans can be adapted to suit many campaign purposes. We’ve seen the van used by the food and drinks, beauty, music, TV, Film, Aviation, Fintech and many other industries.Ice Cream Van with oversized melted ice cream props Netflix

We’ve built many extravagant designs onto our Ice Cream Vans over the years and can confidently say we have the requisite knowledge and experience to bring your ideas to life.

We have a range of Ice Cream Van models available from early vintage models right up to the modern day, allowing you to get the van that best suits you.

Most of our models have the ability to play music just like the originals, giving you an auditory option to attract attention.

It’s worth noting that we can add Bluetooth or AV speakers to any vehicle in the fleet if you are looking to create an audiovisual knockout.


You can’t engage customers inside, so if your activation requires an internal display, you are better off looking at the VW Camper if you want something small, or our Airstreams if you want something larger.



As a fully mobile vehicle the Ice Cream Van is covered under our standard logistics package. This includes a professional driver, route mapping and of course transporting your vehicle to and from each venue for each activation day.


As a fully modern vehicle, the Ice Cream Van can be driven directly to and from each venue, rather than transported aboard a loader.

This means your design will be fully visible to the public and generate thousands of impressions on its way to your venue.

You also have the option to play music as you drive, drawing attention and playing into the appeal of the original Ice Cream Van.


Warburtons Crumpets Orange Yellow Ice Cream VansLogistically there aren’t really any cons to the Ice Cream van. However if you want obtrusive external modifications, we may have to plan your logistics a bit differently, taking into account low bridges or narrow roads etc.

Such modifications are often removable though so the necessity for extra route planning will depend on the final design.



So, what does it cost to get your hands on one of these nostalgic British icons? Our Ice Cream Vans are priced at £6,100 for a one day event, including wrapping and logistics. Internal modifications tend to start around £2000, but can exceed £10,000 if you want unique changes.


The Ice Cream Van is reasonably priced at about £400 cheaper than a Citroën H-Van, but it does sit towards the upper end of the small to medium vintage range.

It’s definitely not the cheapest option, but it is very popular with clients, and it’s popular for good reason; audiences love it!

Price is certainly important, so be sure to shop around your options before you make any decisions, but don’t forget about your ROI.

What you stand to gain from a well-executed activation amounts to far more than the price difference between an Ice Cream Van and any of its competition.  


There are many cheaper alternatives in the small sampling vehicle range. Our Piaggio Apes for example, start from just £3,390, very budget friendly – though they are much smaller.

The full small to medium vehicle range, including VW Campers, Renault Estafettes, Pop-Up Campers, Electric Milk Floats, US Postal Vans costs between £5,230 and £5,750 – all cheaper than the Ice Cream Van.


What are my next steps?

If you are interested in one of our Ice Cream Vans feel free to navigate to our budget calculator, where you can ballpark the cost of an Ice Cream Van campaign.

We also recommend using our costs and services guide, for a more specific explanation of all our services and how much that might add to your final bill.

Gary Parker

Written by Gary Parker

Director of Promohire, with over 10 years' experience of helping customers find the perfect vehicle for their brand activations, product launch campaigns, PR stunts and more.

Gary is also instrumental in our vehicle fit-out and build projects, drawing on his extensive knowledge to advise on interiors and implementing power solutions.