by Sully This week Vermont joins states including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and others, allowing same-sex couples to wed legally. In fact, Vermont's first gay marriage happened at midnight Tuesday, just one minute after the law took effect. Ben & Jerry's, a brand that is closely tied to its home state, announced that it supports Vermont and “celebrates the beginning of the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples in Vermont with the symbolic renaming of its well-known ice cream flavor ‘Chubby Hubby' to ‘Hubby Hubby'.” Some call the campaign a bold move for the internationally sold and marketed brand. Partnering with Freedom to Marry, the company stands behind its mantra that social justice and freedom is deserved for all people, and rebranding the ice cream for the month of September is one way to participate in the conversation around gay marriage, and to celebrate peace and equality. Numerous companies and celebrity figures support gay marriage, especially when faced with California's decision to uphold Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state. Some view endorsements of the movement as purposefully controversial in order to gain press -whether it is positive or not. Far-right conservatives find companies' support of gay marriage as unnecessary and immoral business initiatives. Brands with large and widespread consumer followings, from all areas and demographics of the world, risk the loss of potential customers and fans. For Ben & Jerry's, it seems that the statement is less of a “PR move” and more of a celebration of something in which its founders believe. Long supporting many missions - social, product and economic — the company aims to be sustainable, responsible and respectful through the actions of its business. Other companies can take a lesson from Ben & Jerry's: Regardless of social stigmas attached to beliefs, demographics, etc., companies can always choose authenticity. Freedom of speech gives us the ability to stand behind what we believe, and that is a powerful thing. Standing behind a mission takes courage at times, but companies that consistently display this level of integrity find that this perception emanates from all aspects of their business.
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