How to Do Well and Do Good as a Traditional and Values-Led Company from Ben & Jerry’s

By Katherine Olstein

Ben & Jerry’s Head of PR Sean Greenwood captivated early arrivals at the 2018 PRSA Tri-State District Conference with a fact-filled, fun and eye-catching keynote and PowerPoint deck. The theme was Social Good.

His message? “Getting involved is as important as the product.” You can watch his full presentation on our YouTube Channel.

“We’re concerned with profits-losses, how to make a good product; how to come up with the newest thing. And also, how to take a stance on what we believe in,” he said. “We use the power of our business to raise our voices to stick up for marginzalized folks. “

“Being a values-led business, we choose the issue first, then we try to bring our fans along.” It’s not about brand-building or personal politics, Greenwood said. 

In Column A, values-led concerns, in Column B, traditional business priorities. Ben and Jerry’s does both.

Blending business and social action – 3 strategies and paradigmatic tactics

  • Invent on-ramps for getting involved in high-import issues
    In meetings with NGO leaders known for civil rights activism in North Carolina, Ben & Jerry’s asked, “How can we be helpful?”
To rally people to register, the company sent a truck to polling places around the state, handing out ice cream along the way.
  • Back grass roots community service programs
    Ben and Jerry’s buys the brownies made by apprentices at Grayson’s Bakery in Yonkers, NY, a reentry retraining program that also provides housing and childcare.
  • Join forces with high- and low-profile influencers and bloggers, to spread the word

For Willie Nelson, the company created “Peach Cobbler”; for Dave Matthews, “Magic Brownies,” to celebrate and raise awareness of racial-equality activism.

As an “Inside Scoop” event, Ben and Jerry’s brought bloggers into its factory for a two-day, all-expense-paid ice cream eat-in. “They could write whatever they wanted.” He marveled, “We’ve produced 50,000 pieces of content over the last two years.”

On September 3, 2019, Ben & Jerry’s launched a new flavor called “Justice ReMix’d” to raise awareness about “structural racism and a broken criminal justice system.”

The theme for the 2019 PRSA Tri-State Conference is Plugging Into Social Good. Check out this year’s line-up here.

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