Should brands be activist? If so, how? Insights from Ben & Jerry’s, Tony’s Chocolonely and IKEA

This article explores how three brands that pursue activist causes establish, execute, and measure the impact on their chosen causes.

Over the years that ‘purpose’ has been part of marketing’s regular vocabulary, some subtlety has been lost. It somehow came to signify the entire spectrum from a company’s basic raison d’être (making lots of x and selling it), through the big and brief proclamation (‘We sincerely believe in x’, says CMO of a cynical mega-polluter one day; forgotten the following week), and then to advocating for real change.

There is a big difference, however, between a company having a purpose and a company being an activist. Most firms have a purpose, whether good or bad. In most cases, that purpose...

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