Unilever, the multinational giant that oversees the beloved ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s, is feeling the chill as its stock value takes a frosty nosedive. The culprit? A highly contentious tweet from Ben & Jerry’s on the 4th of July, called for the restitution of “stolen Indigenous land” to Native American tribes.
The incendiary tweet boldly proclaimed, “This 4th of July, it’s high time we recognize that the US exists on stolen Indigenous land and commit to returning it.” Adding fuel to the fire, the tweet also criticized the faces carved on Mount Rushmore, portraying them as symbols of colonization and oppression against Indigenous peoples.
The provocative statement ignited a tempest of backlash, leading to widespread calls for a boycott against the ice cream manufacturer. Consequently, Unilever’s market capitalization took a major hit, plummeting from $130.2 billion to $128.5 billion, resulting in an almost $2 billion decline.
While Ben & Jerry’s operates as an independent entity under the Unilever umbrella, it is clear that the ice cream company’s foray into politics has had a profound impact on the financial performance of its parent corporation. Conservative-leaning media outlets, such as Citizen Free Press and Fox News, were quick to draw a connection between the market downturn and the boycott spurred by the controversial tweet.
The backlash against Ben & Jerry’s Independence Day tweet was swift and severe, with a multitude of Twitter users expressing their disapproval. One Twitter user, identifying as Oglala Lakota Sioux and Navajo, voiced their frustration, stating, “I’m Oglala Lakota Sioux (related to Chief Sitting Bull) and Navajo, and you embarrass me. We don’t need you to be offended on our behalf… if you want to help Natives.” This user challenged Ben & Jerry’s to provide tangible assistance to Native American communities, highlighting a stark contrast between corporate activism and the realities faced on the ground.
Another Twitter user, Brigitte Gabriel, declared, “Ben & Jerry’s is woke ice cream! I will never eat it!” echoing the sentiment shared by many who felt alienated by the brand’s bold political stance.
The impact of Ben & Jerry’s tweet has sent shivers through Unilever, reminding businesses of the delicate balancing act between corporate responsibility and consumer sentiment. As the frost settles, it remains to be seen whether the company can churn things around and regain the confidence of its shareholders. One thing is clear: in today’s interconnected world, the convergence of politics and business can be a treacherous path to navigate.