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Cause Marketing Advertising From Ben & Jerry's

Greyston Bakery, a social enterprise, has been supplying Ben & Jerry’s with brownies since 1990, and now the company has decided to feature the bakery and its mission in an integrated campaign of television and print ads.

The TV ads feature a kind of diorama of the Greyston Bakery factory… designed by Maya Lin… on the Hudson River in Yonkers, New York. We see two hands prepare a cup of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie to house the Greyston Factory, along other Yonkers landmarks, before the hand rings the factory’s bell.

Tiny Greyston Bakers… animated in stop-action…emerge and give flight to their brownies with balloons, all while a plinky-sounding ukulele or tenor guitar plays a simple melody. One of the workers is given a bouquet of balloons and he, too, takes flight, sailing across the closing screen, which features a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie and the line, “Packed With Brownies That Do Good.”

A recent FSI (free-standing insert) has an abbreviated version of the headline that reads, “Brownies That Do Good.”

Greyston Bakery supports the work of the Greyston Foundation, whose mission is to hire and support low income New Yorkers. Greyston famously hires the hard-to-employ, “offering on-site training and fair wages and benefits to more than 65 local residents, regardless of their work history,” the website says.

Greyston bakes 20,000 pounds of brownies a day just for Ben & Jerry’s, which has been owned by the Anglo-Dutch company Unilever since 2000. Greyston’s wholesale business also sells baked goods across the New York metroplex and has an online retail operation as well. The Greyston Foundation has even undertaken real estate development among other efforts to “help individuals forge a path to self-sufficiency.”

The challenge of this kind of advertising is to deliver something as good as the cause (and the ice cream) without turning maudlin. The TV ad isn’t overly-sentimental, but it’s not inspired either.

Instead it occupies that vast middle ground that most advertising does. Fine, but no more than fine. A pity the agency couldn’t find more inspiration from one of the most interesting cause marketing relationships anywhere.

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