Marketing and Comms
Ben & Jerry’s Throws Its Delicious Weight Behind Criminal Justice Reform

The activist brand has added a new cause to its docket: Its latest ice cream flavor, “Justice Remix’d,” aims to spotlight structural racism in the US’ broken criminal legal system.

Ben & Jerry’s — which for years has been raising awareness for social and environmental causes such as climate change, voting rights and even recent, regressive governmental policies — also believes everyone deserves the sweet taste of justice, regardless of race or wealth. Its latest partnership and ice cream flavor are aimed at creating a future, where that is possible: The company has partnered with the Advancement Project National Office to launch Justice ReMix’d — a flavor created to spotlight structural racism in a broken criminal legal system.  

These are huge, complex issues, but Ben & Jerry’s has been an advocate for social justice and equity for much of its 40 years.

“Our approach to creating social change is to raise up the work non-profits are doing on the ground,” said co-founder Ben Cohen. “We bring every resource we have to support them — our business voice, our connection with fans, our Scoop Shop community; and of course, ice cream. Somehow, it’s easier to talk about difficult issues over a scoop or two.”  

Advancement Project National Office is a national, multi-racial civil rights organization that works with local grassroots organizers on racial justice issues. 

“Our country needs to invest in services that build up communities rather than those that tear them down,” said Executive Director Judith Browne Dianis. “That means ending a wealth-based pre-trial detention system that locks people up because they are poor, Black or Brown. It means dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, divesting from criminalizing students and investing in the creation of high-quality education and services. It’s time to reimagine safety and justice.” 

Image credit: Ben & Jerry's

With this new partnership, Ben & Jerry’s is continuing its record of not only raising awareness about critical social and environmental issues, but also engaging its customers to care, and act, as well. At the grassroots level, Ben & Jerry’s is deploying its Scoop Truck in various states to spark conversations, activate community members, and give away ice cream — a tactic that has proven effective in growing social movements. In St. Louis, the Scoop Truck supported the Close the Workhouse Coalition by attending 27 events, giving out 13,420 scoops, and generating more than 1500 messages to public officials.  In Miami, Ben & Jerry’s is working with the Power U Center for Social Change in calling on the Miami-Dade County School Board to prioritize funding for mental health and counselors instead of more security and surveillance.

During his keynote at SB’19 Detroit in June, CEO Matthew McCarthy explained: “We at Ben & Jerry’s never rest on our laurels — we feel a tremendous sense of urgency to keep moving forward to find new ways to drive the values that have propelled this business for four decades.

“What the hell does ice cream have to do with social justice? A lot of the things we do at Ben & Jerry’s don’t actually sell more stuff; I see a lot of marketers out there still trying to find … that perfect cause for [their] brand that allows [them] to grow and sell more stuff. I suggest you screw all of that,” he asserted.

For brands that may be afraid of speaking up about certain issues for fear of alienating their customer base, he said: “Part of transparency is having the courage, the openness to share your message — that’s part of why consumers and people will trust you and pick your business over another. … We’re not here in business to please everybody, or go to the lowest common denominator of acceptance — we’d much rather be loved by a few at Ben & Jerry’s than unoffensive to many.”

With its cinnamon and chocolate ice creams with gobs of cinnamon bun dough and spicy fudge brownies, Justice ReMix’d is part of Ben & Jerry’s multi-year campaign for criminal justice reform. Justice seekers with a sweet tooth can find the audacious new flavor in grocery stores nationwide and in Scoop Shops, and can learn more about the company’s criminal justice reform campaign at benjerry.com.

Meanwhile, the activist ice cream brand continues its climate action efforts: It has joined other vocal brands Patagonia, Lush and Seventh Generation in planning to close stores on September 20, to take part in the Global Climate Strike — a worldwide day of climate strikes organized by a coalition of groups including 350.org, Greenpeace, SEIU, March On and Extinction Rebellion. The Global Climate Strike is expected to spark peaceful protests across the globe, acting as an unofficial prelude to the UN Climate Summit in New York the following week.

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