In October, while in foliage-full Vermont for a wedding, I stopped at the Ben & Jerry’s Factory…as ice-cream fans do! A tour about the creation and reach of ice cream turned into a much greater learning experience when we were also given an insight into the company’s values and issues they care about. It got me thinking, can we change the world with….ice cream?
There are three main goals shared by all campaigns (Baringhorst, 2009, p10):
- Gaining public awareness for a particular cause, service, organisation or person
- Generating credibility for a person or organisation
- Generating cognitive, evaluative and behaviour changes in a target group of people
Through their products, stories, website, partnerships and public engagement activities it appears Ben and Jerry’s has been successful regarding their ‘social’ mission for:
A fair and global economy
The campaign: Fairtrade
Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers. Ingredients under each flavour specify when made with Fairtrade products, such as bananas in Chunky Monkey.
The campaigns: Empowerment
Three of their current flavours have clear social justice messages. Can you match the message to the flavour?
a) This coffee & caramel ice cream containing chocolate ampersands will help fund various projects run by Hope not Hate, contributing to more inclusive communities (which is timely with Brexit and the recent election of Trump).
b) This ice cream contains brownies made by the homeless in Yonkers, New York – empowering them to become self-sufficient.
c) This ice cream is music to your ears and tastebuds, as proceeds help fund a youth empowerment programme in Jamaica. Yeah man! Pretty cool.
Protecting the environment from effects of climate change
The campaigns: Effects of Climate Change on animals and the environment, Fracking
Very clever ‘SOS’ message on the packaging of their Save Our Swirled ice cream flavour, complete with chocolate cone pieces of chocolate and a petition request about climate change.
Very clever timing has enabled a Ben and Jerry presence at key events, as highlighted in this blog. Can you find the cone?
Image from Ben & Jerry’s
Other flavours such as Baked Alaska highlight declining numbers of polar bears. Even more topical, they comment on fracking….which makes you wonder which comes first the ice-cream or the social issue?
It appears that ice cream CAN be a vehicle for social change!
Ben & Jerry defies the odds by:
- Innovatively using ice cream containers, lids and advertising as a communicative medium to spread value-based messages to its consumers,
- Partnering with like-minded actors such as Greenpeace, Fairtrade and Friends of the Earth for wider reach,
- Capitalizing on key timings such as COP21 within the political arena,
- Subliminally ensuring that with each bite of their ‘symbolic’ chocolate chunks and Fairtrade products your intrinsic values might be strengthened.
…all which perhaps will lead you to be more likely to take action on important social issues (Crompton, 2015) such as social justice, climate change and fair-trade.
To think they were considering bagels over ice cream! Very. Useful. Tour.
Featured image from Ben & Jerry’s
Baringhorst et al. (2009). Political Campaigning on the Web. Available from http://www.fk615.uni-siegen.de/dokumente/LeseprobePoliticalCampaigning37.pdf. [Accessed 11 December 2016].
Crompton, et al. (2015). Common Cause Communication – A Toolkit for Charities. Common Cause Foundation, UK. Available from http://valuesandframes.org/the-common-cause-communications-toolkit. %5BAccessed 11 December 2016].
This blog is part of my MA in Media, Campaigns and Social Change with the University of Westminster.