Why is this news?
That politicians, activists and charities speak out about a conflict somewhere in the world: that‘s pretty normal. But the fact that a well-known company does, it’s not common. Ben & Jerry‘s says Israel’s attitude does not fit the ‘values of their business’. They take a very clear position on Israeli politics.
And the company doesn‘t just speak out, they go beyond that too. They stop selling ice cream in occupied areas. And that’s unique.
Who finds what?
fact that a large, internationally renowned company like Ben & Jerry‘s comes up with this action is sensitive in Israel. Many Israelis say on social media that they see this as an action against all of Israel and Jewish hatred.
New Prime Minister Benett commented on Twitter: “This boycott against Israel, a democracy surrounded by islands full of terrorism, shows that this brand is lost. There are many ice cream marks, but only one Jewish state.”
The Israeli Secretary of State hopes that the United States, where Ben & Jerry’s comes from, will punish the company for this action. In a number of US states, it is forbidden to boycott Israel.
At the same time, Palestinian organizations are delighted with the action. “Ben & Jerry‘s previously supported Black Lives Matter and other actions against inequality. Finally, their policy on suppressing the Palestinians by Israel is now closing in with this too,” says the anti-Israel organization BDS.
That club calls for Israel to boycott all over the world and actually wants Ben & Jerry’s to go a step further. They call to stop selling their ice cream in Israel altogether. Ben & Jerry‘s continues to sell ice cream in the rest of the country.
What does Ben & Jerry’s have about this?
A company would like to make as much money as possible. Why does Ben & Jerry‘s interfere with this conflict in this way? “That’s a little speculation,” says consumer psychologist Patrick Wessels. “If you look at them with positive glasses, Ben & Jerry‘s does this because they really care about it and want to use their influence to change the situation there. But it’s a bit of a sales strategy for your own brand.”
As a brand, you always want to sell your product to the group of people who best fit a product, explains Wessels. “This Ben & Jerry‘s choice is quite activist. So they probably think the people who buy their ice creams are also activist.” Or they’re looking for a new group of customers. “They want people who think about this conflict to buy their ice creams. The connection with this group of ice cream lovers is getting stronger because they feel supported. They won‘t buy ice cream from the competitor soon.”
At the same time, there are people who don’t want Ben & Jerry‘s anymore, says Wessels. “That’s inevitable, but as a brand there‘s not much wrong with sharp choices. The last thing you want is to be a grey mouse and no one knows your brand. Nike and Tony’s Chocolonely work exactly that way.”
Choosing a Side
fact that brands speak out about things that play in society has been happening more often lately. Think of all brands that changed their logo to rainbow colors during Pride Month or went black for Black Lives Matter.
Yet Wessels thinks this Ben & Jerry‘s action is different. “Usually when there’s fuss about a brand, companies quickly pull their hands off. When Johan Derksen and Bilal Wahib were negative in the news, companies immediately stopped working with them. Ben & Jerry‘s is making a fuss himself. That’s really new, because there was actually a rule among companies to avoid anything that might be politically sensitive.”