Blog: Ben & Jerry sweet on Wall Street protestors

Sam Webb | 13 October 2011

Activists who have camped out in New York's financial district to protest the political power of corporations have a new ally - Ben & Jerry's.

The Unilever-owned ice cream manufacturer, which has a history of environmental and social activism, has released a statement supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has overrun the iconic financial landmark for almost a month.

The company's board of directors says the movement has its "deepest admiration" and raises issues of "fundamental importance", including American unemployment, lack of access to higher education and corporations financially influencing elections.

The statement said: "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."

It goes on to acknowledge that words are easy and lists the corporate social responsibility commitments the company has instigated, but a cynic might say that this is all very clever PR.

Strong ethical credentials have undoubtedly formed part of the company's marketing activities over the years.

However, there are indications that some in Wall Street are sceptical of Ben & Jerry's support for the protestors.

Twitter account GSElevator, which claims to reproduce conversations overheard in the elevator at investment banker Goldman Sachs, was a bit more forthright about the company's endorsement of Occupy Wall Street.

"These idiots don't know that Ben & Jerry's is owned by Unilever, which has insanely aggressive capitalist policies in emerging mkts", it said.

Ben & Jerry's have in the past defended their association with Unilever. A recent tweet from their official US account said: "Unilever supports us to continue as an activist company and do what's important to us".

Whatever your opinion on the Occupy Wall Street movement, or on the reasons for Ben & Jerry's proclamation of support, even if companies are doing good with one eye on their bottom line, at least they're still doing good.


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