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USA Today reports that Ben & Jerry’s, the ice cream company founded by a pair of social activists from the seventies but that was acquired by Unilever five years ago, will begin running a series of commercials focusing on social issues.

The first looks at the decline of family-owned farms in the US. The company will back up the commercials with information provided on its website and in its scoop shops, offering consumers advice on how to help save family farms.

Walt Frese, CEO of the company, admits to the paper that the ice cream company has not been as bold in its social efforts as it was under the founders’ guidance. “Our social mission is built into our business,” he says about the change. “We're focused on making the best ice cream, a fair financial return and being a force for social and economic justice and the environment. That's as important to us as profitability and product quality.”
KC's View:
We think this is smart marketing.

We have felt and have written that it seemed like Unilever unintentionally squandered a lot of the goodwill that Ben & Jerry’s built up over the years with its offbeat but socially responsible approach to business. For many of us, Ben & Jerry’s wasn’t just exceptionally good ice cream – it also was reminder of who we were, before kids and mortgage payments and the “big chill” that comes with the crush of responsibilities.

Good for Unilever as it rediscovers the company’s philosophical roots.

Now, if we could get Ben & Jerry’s to bring back its White Russian ice cream, which we long felt was the single best ice cream flavor we’d ever tasted. (Though its new Dublin Mudslide flavor is pretty outstanding.)