Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ben & Jerry get egg on their face

Earlier today I applauded Oprah for putting her money where her mouth is and donating time and money to schoolgirls in Africa. Now I'm scolding Ben & Jerry's for talking about supporting sustainable family farms and environmental causes while purchasing eggs from a company whose abuses of chickens has been documented by the Humane Society of the United States: "On its web site, [Ben & Jerry's] criticizes what it calls 'giant, industrial farming operations,' and it ends one of its commercials with the tag line, 'Ben & Jerry's: Join our fight for small family farms.' Of course, consumers viewing the company's public declarations of social responsibility might have a hard time swallowing the fact that Ben & Jerry's is responsible for keeping tens of thousands of hens intensively confined in massive industrialized factory farms."
As a marketer, I believe in the power of brands and I know that cause and green marketing can be powerful tools when properly used. And as a consumer, I chose brands for recycled content, fair-trade practices and the humane treatment of animals.
But brands need to understand the responsiblity that comes from putting a stake in the higher ground. Ben & Jerry's, you will be held to a higher standard. And if you can't fulfill your brand promises, you'll get your just desserts.