Imagine Ben & Jerry's Jumping Into Social Media

Ben & Jerry's icecream Imagine Whirled PeaceIn a move tailor-made for a brand with a social-conscience aura, Ben & Jerry's first foray into social media is pegged on eliciting its fans' thoughts and feelings about how they might contribute to achieving world peace.

The brand that has long described its mission as "Peace, Love and Ice Cream" has launched a social media site/campaign titled "Imagine Whirled Peace"--tying in both with a new flavor, "Imagine Whirled Peace," and 2008's Peace Day on Sept. 21.

B&J worked with John Lennon's estate to secure rights to using his name on the new flavor. Peace Day, founded by filmmaker Jeremy Gilley in 1999, is an annual event organized by non-profit Peace One Day, which is marked by the member states of the United Nations with an official day of "global ceasefire and non-violence."



Visitors to the Imagine Whirled Peace site are asked to register their first name and last name initial, plus email address and city in order to upload their "messages of peace" in preparation for Peace Day. They may also post their photos and other relevant images. A quick link for sharing the site with friends is provided.

The UGC site is being promoted to brand loyalists already on B&J's e-newsletter database, and also through paid search on Google, a registration form on Facebook, and on the brand's main Web site.

As one might ... er ... imagine from that list of channels, in addition to building engagement and loyalty among the broader customer base (which tends to skew somewhat older), the campaign/site particularly aims to enhance relationships with younger consumers.

"Like all marketers today, we're constantly learning about staying relevant to younger audiences," says B&J Internet marketing manager Katie O'Brien. The campaign is "a natural fit with the brand and what we're passionate about, and a new way to engage younger demographics," she says. Given that ice cream tends to be associated with social occasions, the general concept of using social media also seems a natural for B&J, she adds.

The site/campaign, now in full gear, were launched at the end of May, in conjunction with the release of the new ice cream flavor. (The label on each pint also explains and drives traffic to the peace site).

Paying homage to Lennon's own famous "Bed-In for Peace" with Yoko Ono in 1969, B&J promoted the site launch with its own peace-themed bed-in, held in New York City's Times Square. Individuals who are leaders in promoting peace through community-based and other efforts, chosen through a sweepstakes in which B&J site users nominated their candidates, were the "bed sitters" during that promotion.

B&J is evaluating the campaign on the basis of registrations/postings on the peace site, compared with metrics for its main brand site--and the results have been excellent, according to O'Brien. Although the campaign has no direct objective of boosting sales of the new flavor, the flavor is selling "very, very well, because it's delicious," she reports.

The peace site is backed by Vitrue, a social media marketer for Fortune 500 brands, and based on the company's Mosaic technology platform, which allows users to contribute to the larger mosaic of a peace symbol with their own "stories."

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