Brands In The Spotlight: Ben & Jerry’s
I’m using my next few blogs as an opportunity to shout out some fantastic brands who are doing some good. In the current climate, brands making genuine and concerted efforts to contribute positively to the issues affecting their customers are few and far between, so it’s important to highlight those who are making a stand and making a difference.
The first brand in the spotlight is Ben & Jerry’s. They are a household name due to their fantastic flavoured ice cream in delightful and whimsical packaging.
The flavours you’ll find in my freezer on payday are Cookie Dough, Half Baked, and Chocolate Fudge Brownie. It’s the ultimate treat. However, Ben & Jerry’s are much more than just makers of delicious ice cream.
Corporate Activism At Its Finest
Ben & Jerry’s are the ultimate ‘corporate activists’. They have never been afraid to make a political statement. Many companies are scared to tie themselves to a cause or a political party in case it loses them customers, in case it comes across as disingenuous, or simply because they want to keep their brand neutral and removed from controversial topics. Ben & Jerry’s have quite the opposite approach. Just looking at the “our values” page on their websites you can see that they have attached their globally recognised brand to at least 11 different social justice causes in the US and 6 in the UK. The co-owners Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were even arrested at a “Democracy Awakens” protest in 2016.
Ben & Jerry’s typically contribute to these causes by using their huge platform to discuss and promote them, and highlighting non-profit organisations and grassroots movements within the social justice causes they support. They also provide grants to such organisations via their Ben & Jerry’s foundation.
Many were worried that being bought out by Unilever in 2000 would prevent them from continuing to campaign for the causes they believe in, but Ben & Jerry’s proved everyone wrong and have continued to fight the good fight, loudly and proudly.
Racial Justice & The Black Lives Matter Movement
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, Ben & Jerry’s have released an incredibly passionate and powerful statement called “We Must Dismantle White Supremacy; Silence Is Not An Option”.
They call for 4 actions to take place, including for President Donald Trump to take the first step by…
“…disavowing white supremacists and nationalist groups that overtly support him, and by not using his Twitter feed to promote and normalize their ideas and agendas.”
It’s not the first time Ben & Jerry’s have spoken out about systemic racism or supported the Black Lives Matter movement, so it’s not a ‘token gesture’ to try to gain favour with the hundreds of thousands of people globally who are demanding significant and radical change. In fact, they’ve been supporters of the Black Lives Matter campaign and pushing for racial equality for years – including announcing a new ice cream flavour in 2019 called “Justice Remix’d” which was released to make a statement about “structural racism in our broken criminal legal system”.
Ben & Jerry’s are also very heavily involved in the global climate movement. They are very open about the carbon footprint of their own company, and are consciously doing everything they can to reduce their emissions:
“We’ve installed a solar array at our Waterbury, VT factory that generates one third of that plant’s electricity. We’ve installed a bio-digester at our Hellendoorn factory in the Netherlands that turns ice cream waste from the manufacturing processes into clean energy that helps power the plant, and we’ve helped pioneer technology for climate friendly (i.e. HFC-free) freezer cases. But to be clear, it’s not enough and there is much more work to be done.”
They are also a member of the Science Based Targets Initiative which is a group of businesses who are setting and monitoring ambitious targets to achieve specific environmental goals.
They often use ice cream as an accessible way to highlight issues such as the ice caps melting. Their marketing campaigns are usually a platform which, whilst promoting their ice cream, also promotes the campaigns that they support, such as the video below.
Animal Welfare & Fair Trade
One of Ben & Jerry’s mission statements is to:
“create linked prosperity for everyone that’s connected to our business: suppliers, employees, farmers, franchisees, customers, and neighbors alike.”
There are numerous schemes they have in place to fulfill this mission. Caring Dairy™ which helps to ensure that the dairy farms they use are moving towards sustainable practices, they use cage free eggs, and they work with the Fairtrade organisation to make sure that the small scale farmers they buy ingredients from are being paid a fair price for their produce. They use Fairtrade sugar, cocoa, vanilla, coffee, and bananas
LGBTQ+ Rights – Love Who You Love!
There are so many more social causes which Ben & Jerry’s also use their platform to promote and support. They range from Refugee Rights, to keeping big money out if politics, to GMO labelling. The final one that I will highlight is their campaign for LGBTQ+ rights, and specifically the right to marriage equality, where they renamed their infamous Cookie Dough ice cream flavour “I Dough, I Dough” in celebration of the Supreme Court voting in favour of same sex marriage.
The ice cream tastes even better when you know that you’re supporting such an amazing company. See you in the freezer aisle?
Next up, we will put Brewdog into the spotlight, with their 50% NHS discounts, free beers for everyone, and electric delivery vans!