A number of our supporters wrote recently to complain about the cozy deal between MoveOn.org and Ben & Jerry’s. It’s a deal that lets the ice cream maker polish its image (and boost sales) by aligning its brand with progressive causes—even though the Unilever-owned company is responsible for the use of massive amounts of toxic chemicals that have all but ruined Vermont’s water.
One supporter wrote:
In case no-one else brought this to your attention, I received a solicitation over the weekend from MoveOn sponsored by Ben and Jerry's. When I got around to reading it just now I responded by attempting to notify MoveOn's administrators that they were being used by Ben and Jerry to once again present themselves as "socially responsible" citizens when in fact they are among the worst of the worst offenders of the public health and contamination of the commons through their actions.
This supporter (and others) were referring to emails to MoveOn members from "Ben & Jerry" with subject lines like “We're worried” and “Stop Trump. Eat Ice Cream.”
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the founders of Ben & Jerry’s who later sold the company to Unilever, may in fact oppose the Trump administration. We’re fine with that.
But let’s be clear. This is free advertising for Ben & Jerry’s, a brand that masquerades as “socially responsible” when it isn’t. And it’s a great example of subliminal advertising, designed to convey this message: “Hey, we’re just like you. We care.”
The marketing gurus at Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s know full well that many consumers go out of their way to buy products sold by “socially responsible” companies. According to a recent report, Unilever's “Sustainable Living” brands are growing 46 percent faster than rest of business.
What better way to spread the message that you’re one of the “good guys” than by promoting your brand via a 6-million-plus email list targeting people who care about social justice and the environment?
Partnering with MoveOn is just one of several publicity efforts launched in recent months, all aimed at bolstering Ben & Jerry’s brand image—there's more.
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