Let’s Scream Beyond Ice Cream

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The saying goes that, “we all scream for ice cream.” But what could ice cream scream for? For Ben & Jerry’s, the answer is for inclusion, equality, and human rights.

Who doesn’t love ice cream? And who doesn’t love ice cream with a social mission, amirite? Ben & Jerry’s, one of the most popular pruveyors of this frozen delicacy, is willing to step up and be the kind of company that loves a chocolate swirl and a just world.

Ben & Jerry’s has always had involvement in the community game. Humbly beginning in 1978, Ben & Jerry’s was simply two guys hawking ice cream. Some very good ice cream. And profits steadily began to rise. By 1985, they grew into the position to launch the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, which focused on supporting community activism, and promised an annual donation based on the company’s  pre-tax profits, to boot.

And then, in 2001, they were acquired by Unilever.

But not without stipulation. Signed into the purchase agreement was a provision calling for an Independent Board of Directors that focused only on Ben & Jerry’s social mission. Once the 2000s were rolling, after a few growing pains, the company became known for their social campaigns as much as they were for their ice cream.

With a long history of being climate conscious, Ben & Jerry’s spent the 2000s:

  • Launching a campaign to fight global warminglanding-cone
  • Rocking the Vote
  • Protesting oil drilling
  • Supporting and using increasingly Fair Trade ingredients
  • Protesting meat and milk from cloned animals
  • “Occupy”-ing
  • Going non-GMO

In the past year, they’ve seemingly accelerated their efforts and been actively more vocal about the causes (and the candidates they support). The internet was all over their announcement about creating the flavor “Bernie’s Yearning” in honor of Bernie Sanders’ presidential run.

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Sure, it may have been a novelty run of 40 pints, but nonetheless, Ben & Jerry’s chose to make a political statement that aligned with their social mission, and created a flavor that plenty were bummed they’d never be able to try (I guess the same could be said for the candidate).

Ben & Jerry’s continues to call attention to the issues that matter, regardless of the opinions of their corporate overlords. A simple visit to their blog shows that they will not be shying away from current issues and will not hesitate to support the side they think is right. An interesting case study for corporate buyouts, their model is being followed by the General Mills and Annie’s relationship, and should it prove successful, may just become the standard for brands with a mission to survive acquisition.

 

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