Spotlight on Ben & Jerry’s
There is a common trope about COVID-19 being an equal-opportunity disease, indifferent to the skin color of its victims. White, black, brown—we’re all vulnerable.
Well, no. In the U.S., as Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s wants Americans to understand, people of color represent a disproportionate number of total COVID cases—and deaths—and no where is that more evident than in jails and prisons, where social distancing is virtually impossible, personal hygiene is a challenge and healthcare is often inadequate.
As a self-described aspiring social justice company, Ben & Jerry’s believes in a greater calling than simply making a profit for selling its goods. Its brand, perhaps more than any other, is inseparably tied to activism and a passion for justice and equality, evidenced by its practices as an employer and the causes it supports, from immigrant rights to fair trade. Indeed, this may be the only major company with an in-house activism manager; the flavors Pecan Resist and Justice ReMix’d were expressly created to highlight racism and promote criminal justice reform.
In the time of COVID-19, the Vermont-based company has focused its activism on how systemic racism has skewed infection curves between white and non-white populations.
In a recent statement on their website, the company cites a Johns Hopkins study that reveals that “the death rate in predominantly Black counties is six times that in predominantly white counties.” In New York City, “Black and Latinx people are dying at twice the rate of white people.”
“At the height of the pandemic,” reports WGNO in New Orleans, “one of the most dangerous places to be is in jail.” For that reason, Ben & Jerry’s has mobilized and helped fund a range of initiatives, such as Advancement Project National Office’s #FreeAndSafe to release people jailed for minor and victimless offenses—or simply for the inability to make bail. The vast majority of these prisoners, who are directly exposed to the coronavirus at every turn, are brown and black-skinned Americans.
As protesters across the nation demonstrated for racial justice following the May 25 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, Ben & Jerry’s called on Americans to “dismantle white supremacy” and “grapple with the sins of our past.” Other corporations spoke out too against racial injustice, but none with such force, conviction or eloquence.
Ben & Jerry’s is known worldwide for its famously off-beat variety of flavors, from Chubby Hubby to Wavy Gravy to Urban Jumble. But in these trying times, it is serious about raising our voices for the greater good. “Silence,” the company said, “is not an option.”
Update: On June 23rd, Ben & Jerry’s announced, via Twitter, that it “will pause all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the US,” further stating that “Facebook, Inc. must take the clear and unequivocal actions to stop its platform from being used to spread and amplify racism and hate.”
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About Brand Acts of Kindness®
Brand Acts of Kindness® is a series from Carpenter Group that spotlights companies across industries that are living their brand values in addressing the unprecedented challenges facing the world today.
The series initially headlined companies assisting healthcare workers and first responders, as well as communities, businesses and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also highlight brands taking the lead in supporting social and racial justice, LGBTQ rights, sustainability and the environment. Their stories show how innovation, resolve and action, built on a solid value proposition, can both strengthen a brand and help create a better world.
About Carpenter Group
Carpenter Group is an independent, woman-owned strategic branding, messaging and marketing communications firm that has delivered results-driven solutions to financial, professional services and technology firms for 30+ years.
Our broad cross-discipline experience enables us to craft brand messaging and carry it through to the channels that most effectively connect with our clients’ target audience, from editorial content to advertising to event marketing and more.