Bil Browning

Ben & Jerry's Occupy Wall Street PR Bullshit

Filed By Bil Browning | October 12, 2011 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Ben & Jerry's, Occupy Wall Street, OWS, Paul Polman, PR bullshit, Unilever

You may have seen that Ben and Jerry's Board of Directors put out a statement expressing support for the Occupy Wall Street protestors. americone_dream_large.jpgIt all sounds great on paper.

We know the media will either ignore you or frame the issue as to who may be getting pepper sprayed rather than addressing the despair and hardships borne by so many, or accurately conveying what this movement is about. All this goes on while corporate profits continue to soar and millionaires whine about paying a bit more in taxes. And we have not even mentioned the environment.

We know that words are relatively easy but we wanted to act quickly to demonstrate our support. As a board and as a company we have actively been involved with these issues for years but your efforts have put them out front in a way we have not been able to do. We have provided support to citizens' efforts to rein in corporate money in politics, we pay a livable wage to our employees, we directly support family farms and we are working to source fairly traded ingredients for all our products. But we realize that Occupy Wall Street is calling for systemic change. We support this call to action and are honored to join you in this call to take back our nation and democracy.

Here's what reality tells us. Ben and Jerry's board of directors is meaningless and is mostly charged with keeping up the brand's hippie-loving image. They're owned by Unilever, a large global conglomerate corporation that also owns several other American food companies and produces some of the most caustic chemicals known to man.

Unilver, who reported a 25% increase in full years profits in February, pays CEO Paul Polman almost $4,000,000 a year. Polman also earns $221,000 a year as a non-Executive Director of Dow Chemical Company. (I want in on that non-Executive Director thing. You know he's not going to work at Dow while punching in daily as the CEO of Unilever. I want to get paid almost a quarter of a million dollars a year to not do something.)

Ben and Jerry's founders sold the company to Unilever for $326,000,000 in cash. Unilever has since slashed the work force dramatically and closed factories. You can't make a livable wage when you don't have a job anymore, but don't let that stop the corporate faux-hippies from conning you into buying more anti-Wall Street ice cream.

Unilever shares are, of course, sold on Wall Street.


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Unilever owns ConAgra, which fires workers if they have a history of injury (even if they can still work) and has been responsible for one salmonella outbreak after another. I'm sure you could go through all the brands Unilever owns and find quite a bit of corporate wrong-doing.

Unilever also has a history of threatening to leave the UK if the country doesn't cut taxes on the rich. But keep on buying Ben and Jerry's - it'll make you feel like you're supporting the good guys.

If you want Occupy Wall Street ice cream, get a cow, feed it grass, milk by hand, and make the ice cream; or buy from a farmer that does.

Seriously? A press release? I guess sooner or later, someone had to try it to see if it would be possible to capitalize on OWS in that way.

[best Brando]The irony. The irony.[/best Brando]

Yeah, Ben, Jerry and Unilever, keep your Schweddy Balls to yourself! :(

I consider this article rather as nonsense. Although I also don't like excessive greed on the cost of many as displayed by some on Wallstreet I would like a little more thought about what we write and on which foundations. Also correct information would be appropriate or maybe ask people or firms at least for a comment?
The press release of Ben & Jerry might be a total unnecessary action for an ice cream producer, with that I agree but further I can't.
First of all we cannot blame any company in the world for wanting to be profitable, without profit no salaries to pay to jobs. Unilever cleaned up what the Ben & Jerry shareholders should have done themselves but with selling their shares they can spend all there money and leave others to do that.
Secondly, Unilever's profits are good and healthy but not excessive and form a guarantee for sustainability of the company.
Third, Unilever has never threatened to leave the UK if there would be taxes imposed on rich UK citizens? Why would Unilever do that?
Fourth, Unilever is from origin a Dutch company and its worldwide headquarters is based on the Blaak (street) in the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands and follows the laws and regulations of the countries it operates.
Fifth, Unilever is a fund that is popular by pension funds to invest in because it is not speculative but sustainable and has a solid corporate social responsibility policy.
So maybe the writer and those that wrote comments would like to read the website of Unilver at www.unilever.com where a lot of information is available.

I find it extremely interesting that someone would sign up for an account and leave a pro-Unilever comment from an IP address in Mongolia commonly used to send out spam attacks and known for being used as a covert IP for corporate sockpuppets.

That aside - to answer some of your ridiculous statements.

1. First of all we cannot blame any company in the world for wanting to be profitable, without profit no salaries to pay to jobs.
Sure can't. What we can blame them for is exploiting the world's resources, polluting third world countries where they produce caustic chemicals to make soaps, lyes, and other cleaning chemicals while recording record profits and paying exorbitant salaries to executives while forcing substandard pay and horrible working conditions on the working stiffs.

2. Secondly, Unilever's profits are good and healthy but not excessive and form a guarantee for sustainability of the company.
Their profits are huge. As I said, they just reported a 25% increase in yearly profits. That's a public statement from the company in February. At the same time, they've slashed jobs worldwide and increased executive salaries.

3. Third, Unilever has never threatened to leave the UK if there would be taxes imposed on rich UK citizens? Why would Unilever do that?
According to this thing called "the internet" where you can look up company statements, they have. Repeatedly. A Google search for "Unilever UK taxes" shows all of the first results with headlines like "Unilever Threatens to Leave UK Over Tax Burden" (#1 result from the same year and month they reported that 25% increase in profits, btw), "Unilever chief Paul Polman warns UK tax regime will deter businesses (#2 - the year before the first article), and #3, "Unilever threatens to pull out of Britain over rising taxes."

4. Unilever is from origin a Dutch company and its worldwide headquarters is based on the Blaak (street) in the city of Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Bully for them. As I said, they are a global conglomerate. The main website for the company is called "Unilever Global Company." They have country-specific operations in (according to the site you think I haven't examined): Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Maghreb, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

5. Fifth, Unilever is a fund that is popular by pension funds to invest in because it is not speculative but sustainable and has a solid corporate social responsibility policy.
Having a policy and actually following the policy are completely different things and there are numerous documented cases of exploiting workers and natural resources. There have been numerous exposes on ConAgra alone - including feature length documentaries like "Fast Food Nation." Ben & Jerry's also has a board made to ensure "social responsibility." It puts out worthless meaningless drivel like the topic of the post, but it ranks right up there with the "corporate social responsibility policy" of Unilever's. There's a difference between talking and doing.

And you've just done a lot of PR talking. That's it.

Thank you for making us better informed, and thank you Bill Browning for helping us out with facts as well. Ben & Jerry's just lost our love, which is good not only for our own health and waistlines, but for the world as well.