A Taste of Something Sweet
Understanding the Ben & Jerry’s brand
By Kayla Nelson
As a lover of all things sweet, I am very familiar with the ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s, as most people are. But Ben & Jerry’s has a reputation that most people may not know about. In a world full of injustices and social movements, Ben & Jerry’s has broken the mold and decided to take action.
Founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry GreenfieldIn 1978, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened their very first ice cream shop in Burlington, Vermont. By 1981, they were creating pint-sized treats to be sold in stores and expanding out and adding more locations around Vermont. Ben & Jerry’s is well known for its creative and out-of-the-box flavors. Many of the ice cream flavors have unique names based on pop culture personalities. For example, Cherry Garcia (named after Grateful Dead member Jerry Garcia), Wavy Gravy (named after the Woodstock personality of the same name), and The Tonight Dough (named after The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon). Overall, these flavors and punny names have contributed to their long-lasting success.
The Ben & Jerry’s flavor “Change Is Brewing”, made in honor of The People’s Response Act, that is currently back in stock. Aside from their delicious ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s is a brand known for giving back to the community and being vocal in social justice movements. This history of community outreach spans back to 1985 when they created the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation to fund local community projects. Throughout the years, they have heavily advocated for farmers, the welfare of children, and health safety issues. All of these things remain true, and in more recent years, they’ve focused on environmental causes, voter turnout, and racial discrimination. In 2020, after the killing of George Floyd, Ben & Jerry’s released an official statement urging to “Dismantle White Supremacy”. In this statement, the company expressed its anger with the situation and encouraged Americans to speak out against this injustice, and listed those who they felt were responsible for fixing the ongoing issue of innocent black people being killed at the hands of racists. This is just one of many examples of Ben & Jerry’s constant activism and fearlessness when it comes to speaking out on situations that might cause public outrage.
Using Their Platform
Ben & Jerry’s newest form to pledge to vote this upcoming election. In the time of social media, Ben & Jerry’s has used their platform to publicize the causes they stand for. Even in times when their beliefs have caused backlash from consumers, they have stood firm on what they believe to be right. For the past couple of months, Ben & Jerry’s has partnered with the Black Voters Matter Fund to bring back the flavor ‘Change is Brewing’. The campaign is about the importance of voting, especially among the black community. Bringing this flavor back is even more relevant to the cause because it was originally in honor of The People’s Response Act which was intended to “advance racial justice and end police violence against people with mental illnesses, substance abuse issues, and other health conditions”. This campaign has been present on their Twitter along with posts about Voter Registration Day. They also have an online campaign called ‘Vote Like Our Democracy Depends on It’, where people can pledge to cast their vote during this
upcoming election season. This is just one of many social media
campaigns that Ben & Jerry’s has run throughout the years. This is very admirable compared to many brands that would choose silence over standing up for causes that will really make a difference.
From The View of a PR Student
As a Gen Z PR professional, I would say that Ben & Jerry’s is a prime example of proactive PR. Many brands try to separate their beliefs from their products, in order to not upset their audiences but I think Ben & Jerry’s shows why that isn’t always the best way to do it. I know that for myself and many other young adults, the company’s openness, and willingness to speak on topics like wrongful incarcerations based on race, Black Lives Matter, and advocacy for legal marijuana has made them a brand to support long-term. In my opinion, brands should normalize taking social stances and be more like Ben & Jerry’s.
ABOUT KAYLA NELSON
Kayla is a journalism major with a concentration in public relations at the University of North Texas. After graduating, she hopes to start a career in the entertainment PR world and work for a major record label.