Ice cream and brand activism: guest lecture by Nils Knoop (Ben & Jerry's)

How do ice cream and social activism go together? The American company Ben & Jerry's has wanted to help shape social debate and change ever since it was founded in the late 1970s. Today, in the course "Strategic Communication" by Prof. Dr. Kim Murphy, students of the M.A. Public Relations and Digital Marketing got to know Nils Knoop, who works as Integrated Marketing & Communications Manager for Ben & Jerry's in the DACH region.

Nils Knoop took the participants of the Zoom session on a short journey into the founding history of the world-famous ice cream brand and made it clear that the two founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were already committed to social engagement in the early days of the company. Among other things, the company has - together with other partners and NGOs - already implemented campaigns on hot social topics such as climate change, racism, LGBTQ or the current refugee crisis (#leavenoonebehind). Ben & Jerry's has always collaborated with non-govermental organisations and activist groups, and benefited from their expertise. With this form of corporate activism, the company wants to set an example and promote processes of social change.

However, Knoop explained that this does not always go smoothly and sometimes causes a backlash. He talked about the challenges of community management and dealing with negative reactions on social media. He also discussed his own professional career as well as his previous experiences working for Nike and Redbull, among others. His final piece of advice to students? You should focus on working for brands and issues that you are passionate about, that is the most important criteria in deciding where to go next in your career. We would like to thank him for his virtual visit and for sharing his experiences from the marketing world with us.