Ben & Jerry’s newest ice cream flavor, “Colin Kaepernick’s Change the Whirled,” is a blend of caramel and cookies and topped with a whole lot activism. The newest addition to the flavor lineup is an ode to Kaepernick’s fight for racial justice, with proceeds from each pint sold donated to the Know Your Rights Camp, his foundation for empowering Black and Brown communities.
This isn’t the first time the ice cream brand has released products with social justice on the forefront. In fact, Ben & Jerry’s entire brand revolves around it. To them, you can’t have dessert until after you finish your corporate social responsibility (CSR).
This brand is seeping with CSR, and the results of their dedication to their core values and their determination to make a positive social impact has transformed a pint of ice cream made by two guys in Vermont into the #1 ice cream brand in the country.
As PR professionals, business leaders and organizations, you need to be taking a page out of Ben & Jerry’s playbook and using CSR to bolster your brand’s public image.
Why Is CSR Important?
CSR refers to the practices and policies businesses create with the intention of having a positive impact on the world, beyond the products and services they put on the market. This could mean donating to a cause that represents your brands values, having employees volunteer within their communities, ethically sourcing and producing products or something as simple as treating your employees fairly.
CSR is quite possibly more important than the products and services your brand offers. People don’t buy into a brand because of the product, they buy into a brand because of what it stands for. Consumers want to see that you care about who they are and what they care about. Research shows that nearly 90% of Americans will purchase a product if the company advocates for an issue they care about.
But it has to be sincere. There is a big difference between releasing a statement saying you care and actually taking action to make a change, and consumers will see right through an insincere PR stunt. So, how does Ben & Jerry’s do it?
Building A Brand On Values
According to the Ben & Jerry’s website, their Core Values consist of three elements: human rights and dignity, social and economic justice and environmental protection, restoration and regeneration. “In other words,” they say, “we use ice cream to change the world.”
Ben & Jerry’s is undeniably the front runner in impactful CSR. The front page of their website consistently advocates for their core values, rather than trying to sell ice cream.
The content published on their “What’s New” page includes blog posts titled “5 Reasons Why 2021 Is the Most Important Year Ever in the Fight Against Climate Change” and “The Vaccine Rollout Must be Equitable.”
Furthermore, Ben & Jerry’s is consistently one of the first brands to speak up against acts of injustice. Not only does the brand release statements acknowledging current events which shows they are paying attention, but they take it a step further and actively work to make change, which sets them apart from the performative CSR oftentimes riddled in corporations.
Everywhere you look across all of the brand’s media, Ben & Jerry’s is advocating for something they care about. Consumers recognize that not only are they talking the talk, but they are walking the walk, therefore turning into loyal brand followers.
What You Need To Learn From Ben & Jerry’s
What you need to take away from Ben & Jerry CSR Strategy, if nothing else, is that curating your public image is dependent on your perceived authenticity and sincerity. Focus on your brand’s core values and what you can actively do to support them, and PR success will follow.
Your consumers, of course, need to know who you are and what you do, but what is most important is why you do it. In a constantly progressing social climate, CSR is ultimately becoming more and more important to consumers’ perceptions of brands. Ben & Jerry’s is the #1 ice cream brand in the country for a reason – yes, they have great ice cream, but people buy into people, not products.
Lauryn Bayley is a Public Relations and Content Development Intern at Flackable, an award-winning public relations agency representing financial and professional services brands nationwide. To learn more about Flackable, please visit flackable.com. Follow Lauryn on Twitter at @LaurynBayleyPR.