Brand Takes a Stand: Ben & Jerry’s on Black Lives Matter

While most companies aim to remain apolitical, Ben & Jerry’s throws neutrality to the wind, brazenly using their brand platform as a soapbox for social and environmental justice for more than 20 years. Last Thursday, Ben & Jerry’s released a statement of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, garnering widespread traditional and social media attention.

Is taking a political stance such as this befitting of the Ben & Jerry’s brand? Absolutely.

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The brand mission scoop
Back in April, I had the pleasure of hearing Ben & Jerry’s Grand Poobah of PR (yep, his actual title) Sean Greenwood speak about mission and social entrepreneurship. Greenwood explained that the company had an established mission from the get-go. The first 10 years of business focused on the product, but these days, the folks at B&J consider themselves a social justice company that happens to sell ice cream. “We ruffle feathers,” said Greenwood. “We support same sex marriage, climate change, democracy. We’re going to lose some [support because of that] and we’re OK with that.”

Ben & Jerry’s three-part mission

  1. Product mission: to make fantastic ice cream – for its own sake.
  2. Economic mission: to manage our company for sustainable financial growth.
  3. Social mission: to use our company in innovative ways to make the world a better place.

B&J has prioritized their brand strategy – social justice included – as part of their business strategy. Bringing attention to and taking action on issues they care about is part of their framework.

The social conversation scoop
The statement shared by B&J became a hot topic on social media. Many applauded the company for taking a firm stance on a controversial issue. As to be expected, there was backlash, too, with some users calling for a boycott of the ice cream.

The resulting social media conversation sparked the birth of a trending hashtag on Twitter, #BenAndJerrysNewFlavor. The hashtag pick-up hilariously showcased suggestions and predictions of a new Black Lives Matter-related flavor.

B&J isn’t the first brand to take a stand on this issue, and it certainly won’t be the last. While some seek new ways to show support for the social justice movement, others address it with simple acknowledgements. What other companies have you seen take some kind of political stance – on this issue or others?

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