I honestly am starting to believe that I have a magnet for promising companies. Like the American Airlines ad that I opened my magazine to, the idea for writing to Ben & Jerry’s seemed to be staring me right in the face; however, this time, it came via a different medium. Mom was channel surfing when she suddenly came across a fascinating documentary on CNBC about how the Ben & Jerry’s company started out as a three-man business venture. Soon, the company evolved into a successful enterprise that has managed, to this day, to retain the small-business values it was originally known and loved for.
Indeed, the social aspect of Ben & Jerry’s three-part mission statement reads, “To operate the company in a way that actively recognizes the central role that business plays in society by initiating innovative ways to improve the quality of life locally, nationally and internationally.”
According to the special I watched last night, Ben & Jerry’s has a history of shaking things up– and I don’t just mean their frozen drinks! In 1984, Häagen Dazs attemped to limit Ben & Jerry’s distribution in Boston. Ben and Jerry’s responded by filing a lawsuit against its opponent’s parent company, Pillsbury. In the now-famous “What’s the Doughboy Afraid Of?” campaign, Ben & Jerry’s printed a hotline on its products for consumers to call Pillsbury directly and complain of the bullying that was going on.
Fast-forward 25 years. Ben & Jerry’s has partnered with a number of socially conscious initiatives, such as the World Wildlife Fund, and they are avid supporters of fair trade practices. Furthermore, they have provided grants to such worthy organizations as Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga (in New York), the Washington Peace Center, and Latinos en Acción de CCI (in Iowa).
Well, I’m gonna call it a night (a very late night!) because I’m going to Valencia tomorrow with Mom. The Internet was on-and-off again today, and I’m not taking any chances!