At a glance

Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream brand owned by Unilever, has a long history of purpose-driven activity, and often relies on its employees to drive such initiatives.

Why it matters

Finding an authentic purpose is not always easy for brands, and starting internal conversations is one means of achieving this aim. Galvanizing employees around this mission can also be extremely powerful.


  • Activists within Ben & Jerry’s serve as a core driver of its purpose-driven initiatives.
  • Letting brand custodians and agencies in local markets identify powerful causes has been an impactful model.
  • Ben & Jerry’s has connected products with social causes, such as launching an ice cream variant that raised money to support equity in the criminal justice system.

Matthew McCarthy has spent 22 years in brand management at Unilever, working on a portfolio that ranged from Ragu sauces to Wishbone pet foods, Bertolli olive oil, and Dollar Shave Club’s e-commerce operations.