‘Aspiring Social Justice Company’ Ben & Jerry’s Fights Racism With Pecan Ice Cream

“The company is playing to its political base again.”

Ahead of the November midterm elections, “aspiring social justice” company Ben & Jerry’s unveiled Tuesday the re-branding of one of its flavors in protest of President Donald Trump’s ​”regressive agenda.”

“Pecan Resist” was designed by Favianna Rodriguez, an artist and activist whose work “focuses on the intersection of issues such as immigration, economic inequality, gender justice and climate change.”

“Ben & Jerry’s feels that it cannot be silent in the face of President Trump’s policies that attack and attempt to roll back decades of progress on racial and gender equity, climate change, LGBTQ rights, and refugee and immigrant rights,” the company ​said in a statement posted online.

The ice cream manufacturing giant touted its history of using ice cream to promote progressive values “from racial equity, climate change and marriage equality, to refugee and immigrant rights.”

In 2009 Ben & Jerry’s renamed its “Chubby Hubby” flavor to “Hubby Hubby” as a celebration of Vermont’s Marriage Equality Act, which legalized same-sex marriages in the state.

Concurrent with the launch of “Pecan Resist,” Ben & Jerry’s announced plans to give $25,000 to four activist organizations: Women’s March, Color of Change, Neta, and Honor the Earth.

On social media, the ice cream makers’ campaign received ​mixed reviews. “The company is playing to its political base again,” ​tweeted Bloomberg’s Jordyn Holman.

Ben & Jerry’s is just the latest in a string of corporate entities who have ventured politically-tinged statements, some of which have proven controversial. Nike was lauded and criticized earlier this year for wading into the culturally explosive issue of NFL anthem protests by ​featuring former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in an advertising campaign commemorating the 30th anniversary of the company’s “Just Do It” slogan.

Some welcome the mingling of business with political awareness. “Society is beginning to hold corporate America to a higher standard than ever before,” Above the Bottom Line founder Nikita T. Mitchell wrote in a 2017 piece for Quartz.

According to Mitchell, “CEOs have a responsibility to use the platform and power they’ve been given to influence change.”

But critics of these tactics charge companies with cynically co-opting political causes in order to reap the financial rewards from an increasingly divided citizenry whose default mode of political engagement is consumerism.

“[I]t is utterly ridiculous that brand culture has subsumed so much of our public space — and mental space — that it becomes the crucible for political participation, especially when practices such as, you know, actual voting limp along,” ​wrote Michael Serazio in a piece for the Washington Post earlier this year analyzing Nike’s Kaepernick ad.

“Corporations don’t really care about the adjudication of these issues beyond their shareholders’ bottom lines.”

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