Ben & Jerry’s calls to dismantle white supremacy

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has joined the growing list of brands taking a stand against police brutality and racial injustices in response to the killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests, calling to dismantle white supremacy on Twitter and its website.
  • The message includes an action plan and calls on President Trump and elected officials to commit “to a formal process of healing and reconciliation.” Additionally, the brand asks Congress to pass H.R. 40, legislation that would create a commission to study the effects of slavery and discrimination and examines the merits of reparations.
  • The ice cream company also wants to see a national task force established to draft legislation that increases police accountability and lowers racial violence, and asked the Department of Justice to “reinvigorate” its Civil Rights Division.

Dive Insight:

Ben & Jerry’s follows brands like Nike and McDonald’s in taking a strong position against police violence toward Black people as protests calling for reform have erupted in cities around the globe. The Vermont-based ice cream brand first announced its support for the Black Lives Matter movement in 2016. The latest campaign not only aligns itself with the cause, but also suggests tangible ways to help put an end to the injustices.

“We can’t continue to fund a criminal justice system that perpetuates mass incarceration while at the same time threatens the lives of a whole segment of the population,” the brand’s statement says.

The latest effort names victims of racist violence who are often cited by protesters at marches, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till and Martin Luther King, Jr.

McDonald’s also called out victims in its advertising with a recent video. However, the fast food chain was met with some criticism for its ad and was rebuked for being insincere. The ad came after employees in various cities went on strike during the COVID-19 pandemic to fight for better health protections. The ACLU challenged McDonald’s this week, saying it has perpetuated racism and oppression by failing to protect its workers’ health, many of whom are Black and non-black people of color.

Similarly, Nike’s recent “For Once, Don’t Do It” ad was perceived as empowering by 60% of respondents in an Ace Metrix study this week — but also saw a higher “exploit” signal than either of its 2018 ads starring Colin Kaepernick.

Compared to McDonald’s and Nike, Ben & Jerry’s is known as a progressive brand since its founding in 1978, so the company’s commitment will likely ring more true for consumers.

“What does ice cream have to with structural racism and social justice? Not a lot, except that we care about it and our team cares about it,” Ben & Jerry’s CEO Matthew McCarthy told Marketing Dive last fall.

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