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Friday, October 19, 2012

Strategic CSR - Ben & Jerry's

During the height of the Occupy Wall Street protests, Ben Cohen (co-founder with Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s ) lent his public support to the protestors, donating money and giving advice. Primary among his concerns was that the movement organize and pursue specific goals more methodically.

Cohen has continued to support the Occupy Wall Street movement ( and recently became involved again as the one year anniversary of the initial occupation of Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan approached on September 17. As a recent article in BusinessWeek suggests, the protestors are beginning to rebel against what some see as his heavy-handed (dare I say it, corporate) involvement:

After giving $30,000 in March to fund a van outfitted with a projector to beam the group’s messages onto the sides of buildings, Cohen felt the van was not doing the job and wanted more control. … ‘He’s a 1 percenter telling the 99 percent, ‘I’m your boss,’’ Mark Read, the activist who proposed the mobile projector idea, recently told the New York news site DNA Info.

The article goes on to speculate why Cohen’s involvement has not spurned some new Ben & Jerry’s flavors and identifies a missed opportunity. Helpfully, the author has some suggestions of her own:
  • Occu-Pie Wall Street: Vanilla ice cream with chunks of apple pie and other random throw-ins; no flavor is dominant, making it hard to describe what it really is.
  • Occupy Walnut: For those who don’t like pie, there’s Occupy Walnut—maple ice cream with walnuts distributed equally among all segments of the container (unlike those other ice creams in which all the good stuff goes to the top).
  • 99% Delish: Strawberry ice cream made with 1 percent milk (i.e., it’s 99% fat free) with Sweethearts candies bearing anti-corporate slogans with subtle dietary messages such as: “Stop hyper-consumption!”
  • Biz-cotti Park: Trust us—Zuccotti Park isn’t delicious. Instead, try this coffee-flavored ice cream with biscotti crumbs and tiramisu.
  • Ain’t That Rich: Double chocolate ice cream with peanut butter cups, fudge brownies, and foie gras, all dusted with edible gold powder. Instructions for use: Eat half and then dump half on an unwitting banker’s head.

Perhaps the Occupy movement has an opportunity to stimulate real change, after all!

Have a good weekend.

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Ben & Jerry's Cohen Repos Occupy Wall Street's 'Batmobile'
Bloomberg Businessweek
October 02, 2012