Brand: Ben & Jerry’s
Link: Click Here – click to skip the opening screen and click in the lower left corner to “Watch Ben & Jerry’s Video”
Target: Dairy lovers
A family farmer with a strong New England accent talks about the difficulties of running a small farm, the government’s preference for large industry and his individual relationship with the cows. The spot features various shots of the farm and the cows. The farmer concludes his thoughts saying “In the last ten or fifteen years it’s unbelievable how many farms we’ve lost. I think the family farm has a real future, but I think we need to start thinking about it.” Then we see a black screen saying “America loses over 330 farms every week.” The spot closes with the Ben & Jerry’s logo followed by, “Join our fight for small family farms. ”
Everyone in the marketing community is buzzing about cause marketing. While we think that more corporations partnering with charities can only be a good thing, how to choose these alliances and what to do with them from a marketing standpoint is much trickier. We recently heard Carol Cone speak about this issue at Brand Manage Camp and agree with her that the key to success lies in the match with an appropriate cause and how it is communicated. There is a fine line to tread between having your good deeds go unknown and crass commercial exploitation of charitable ties.
This spot is a great example of how to take on a cause because Ben & Jerry’s does just about everything right here. Here is what works by the numbers:
- Perfect Cause Partner – When we think of Ben & Jerry’s packaging, we think of cows. When we think of Ben & Jerry’s business, we think of brothers in a family business. So taking on the fight for family farms not only makes sense, it actually reinforces Ben & Jerry’s brand authenticity.
- Focus on the Problem – Notice that this spot is not about “What Ben & Jerry’s is doing to help the family farmer.” Self-congratulatory advertising would never look this good. Instead, Ben & Jerry’s communicates their brand through a call to action (join Ben & Jerry’s) and focuses the spot on explaining the problem. Brilliant.
- Clever Political Strategy – Ben & Jerry’s has always been identified with the left, but this spot makes it much more difficult for conservatives to disagree with their politics. After all, Ben & Jerry’s is championing core conservative values here including families, entrepreneurship, limited government intervention and self-reliance. There is also a sly, subversive political commentary here implying that the current U.S. administration is not serving the needs of the heartland well. This spot actually makes it more difficult for the right to boycott Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for political reasons.
- Strong execution – Ben & Jerry’s has a great ear for the tone of this spot as they’ve chosen an eloquent but plain-spoken farmer and do a good job of connecting him to the land and the cows. The music is not overdone and even though there is a huge earnestness to this spot, it still works.
To follow Ben & Jerry’s example, think first of the cause partner and ask whether your organization can bring something to the table besides money. Do you have expertise or industry clout that will help the charity? That’s a good test to know whether consumers will be able to form a strong association between your brand and the cause you support.
Next look at how you can use advertising and other marketing tools to further the mission of the cause – and how you can link your name to this. We like this spot better than the Whirlpool spot showing their partnership with Habitat for Humanity and donation of a refrigerator and stove to every Habitat house that is built even though the Whirlpool program is even more impressive from the standpoint of social impact. In that spot, though, the communication goal is to communicate Whirlpool’s good works, not to promote Habitat’s campaign.
Finally, craft the communication no less carefully than for a new brand launch. The spot will either strengthen not just one brand but two and is well worth the time to get it right.
We think that our farmer must have spoken a punchier line to end the spot with than “I think, you know, the family farm has a real future, but I think we need to start thinking about it.”
Branding Bottom Line:
As Seth Godin says, it’s all about the Moo.