I Scream, You Cream, We All Scream for Ben&Jerry's Ice Cream


(Image courtesy of Ben&Jerry's Ice Cream Media Kit)


I have always wanted to go to Vermont. As the home of the Ben&Jerry Factory, Vermont's lush forest background would set the stage for my ice cream pilgrimage. I would taste all the flavors, go to the flavor graveyard, and purchase merchandise. As the world begins to re-open, I had the chance to speak with Ben&Jerry's PR team to learn more about how this American classic kept its cool during the COVID-19 Pandemic.



1. What makes Ben and Jerry different from other ice cream brands?

Ben & Jerry’s is different from other ice cream brands in several ways. It was started by two real guys and we value authenticity. This was especially important when our biggest rival was Haagen Dazs, a made up name. We are known for large chunks in our ice cream, which was done because Ben has anosmia (inability to smell). Ben relied a lot on mouthfeel when he and Jerry were developing new flavors. He also created strong flavors because being unable to smell makes it difficult to taste, also. So our chocolate was really chocolatey and our mint was very minty. The large chunks became a differentiator because they are very difficult to include in pints. We figured out how to manufacture it, but others haven’t. Perhaps most importantly, we are a values-led business and our values were handed down to us from our Co-Founders. Unlike most ice cream companies, we use the power of our business to create positive social change and we are big proponents of business activism.




(Image courtesy of Ben&Jerry's Ice Cream Media Kit)

2. How does Ben and Jerry incorporate its mission and vision into its product offerings?


We don’t always. Our vision is of a more just and equitable world. Sometimes, the only connection between our values and ice cream is that it is easier to talk about difficult topics (like criminal system reform or systemic racism) over a scoop of ice cream. Other times our products help us realize our goals, such as our growing non-dairy line helping us meet our lower carbon emissions goals. Finally, giving an ice cream flavor to a non-profit or social movement raises awareness of the issue. Our version of business activism is to apply all of the tools available to us as a business—digital marketing, PR, ice cream, money, connections with fans—to social movement campaigns led by our non-profit partners.



(Image courtesy of https://hbr.org/2021/01/why-ben-jerrys-speaks-out. Artist HBR Staff/Unsplash/Ben & Jerry's)


3. How did Ben and Jerry evolve due to the COVID-19 pandemic?


Like many companies, we had to shift our focus considerably due to the pandemic. Our retail locations (Scoop Shops) were hit hard because people stopped going out for ice cream. At the same time, sales at supermarkets went up. We also saw a significant demand for ice cream delivery and through ecommerce, so we put resources and attention to those channels. Our focus on criminal system reform and ending systemic racism rode the wave of protests after George Floyd’s death. It’s possible that the pandemic created the right conditions for people to see, hear and understand race issues in a way they hadn’t before.



(Image courtesy of Ben&Jerry's Ice Cream Media Kit's article https://www.benjerry.com/whats-new/2016/why-black-lives-matter)

4. What are some quintessential Ben and Jerry flavors?


Our top-selling flavor in the US is Half-Baked, which is quintessential because it has big chunks and swirls, a great flavor profile, and a creative name. Globally, our fan favorite is Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough—also quintessential because we were the first national company to put cookie dough in ice cream (1994). Other classics include Chunky Monkey, Cherry Garcia and my favorite, New York Super Fudge Chunk. But we come out with new flavors and innovations every year.


(Image courtesy of Ben&Jerry's Ice Cream Media Kit)


5. What is the future of the company?


In 2000 when Unilever bought Ben & Jerry’s, people said Unilever would provide greater distribution, and it did. We are now sold in more than 35 countries and we are an increasingly global brand. I believe we will continue to grow internationally, and continue to have an impact on society in regionally-specific ways. For example, we are focusing on refugee rights in the UK and on climate change in Australia. We hope to continue to grow our three part mission of high quality ice cream, economic sustainability, and social impact.



(Image courtesy of Ben&Jerry's Ice Cream Media Kit)



Thank you so much Ben&Jerry's Public Relations team for taking time out of their busy schedules to conduct this interview. The interview showed me how Ben&Jerry's remains cool in a crazy world!

Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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