Sacramento will join other cosmopolitan cities - Paris, New York and Los Angeles, where this truck operates, among others - in a one-day-only opportunity to use a mobile app to summon ice cream trucks to specific locations.

Video: For today only, you can use an app to summon an ice cream truck in Sacramento

Published: Friday, Jul. 19, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6B
Last Modified: Sunday, Jul. 21, 2013 - 9:35 am

In a one-time reversal of roles, ice cream trucks in Sacramento today will be chasing their customers down streets and around the grid.

Along with such cosmopolitan cities as New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome, for today only, Sacramento will have an on-demand service that brings ice cream trucks to a specific location by request.

This sweet setup was created by Uber, an app company that allows users to summon transportation cars and limos through their smartphones. Residents of 33 cities will be able to use the app today to mobilize ice cream trucks, and local Sacramento-based trucks will deliver treats for five people for $20.

Uber has executed an ice cream on-demand day before, and has also previously held promotions for on-demand mariachi bands and helicopter rides.

Ilya Abyzov, general manager for Uber in San Francisco, said the app has been operating in Sacramento for six months, and the service has done well in the area. He said in addition to app users who reach out to the trucks, the promotion will also bring ice cream to Students First, an education advocacy group, as a "Sacramento-specific twist."

Social media expert and UC Davis continuing lecturer Andy Jones said he could see the promotion being effective for an app company like Uber.

"The more useful effect from an app-maker's point of view is that this is offbeat and strange enough that in the last couple of days, people have tweeted about it and posted on Facebook and Reddit," Jones said. "Increasingly, this is where hip young people are getting information, rather than TV news and newspapers, and as a result it's something that grabs attention. I think it's creative and it might just work."

Jones said he isn't sure if the Sacramento area is as "cab mad" as other cities, but people working in downtown or eating and drinking in midtown might have more use for a car service like Uber. However, he said there might be a difference in the market between people who need to call a car after a night of drinking and people who frequent ice cream trucks.

Abyzov said the app company likes to mix things up on a semi-regular basis, driving curiosity and giving people their first exposure to the app through these promotions.

"We're trying to marry lifestyles and logistics to make it easier for people to get around Sacramento," he said. "And we like to have fun. We're a young tech company, and when we were launching in Sacramento, we were working out of an incubator on the grid. We love doing stuff for cities and making cities more fun."

Call The Bee's Morgan Searles, (916) 321-1102. Follow her in Twitter @morgansearles.

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