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Fruitiness vs. Truthiness: VolunteerMatch Challenges Stephen Colbert to Taste-Off

Ben & Jerry’s is causing a buzz with its latest CSR and promotional efforts.

Ben & Jerry’s teamed up with Target recently to offer an exclusive Ben & Jerry’s flavor (sold at the retailer), Berry Voluntary, to support the work of VolunteerMatch, which engages volunteers by pairing them up with projects that best meet their interests and expertise. Today, the group issued a taste-off challenge to Stephen Colbert.

Beyond the mere letter to producers and a YouTube taunt (below), the folks at VolunteerMatch actually did their best to curry favor with Colbert’s own studio audience. In their words: “This challenge was presented today to the New York City studio audience
of The Colbert Report as they waited to see the live taping of the
program. They were given sample sizes of Ben & Jerry’s Berry
Voluntary.”

In other words, they bum rushed the line outside of the Colbert taping.

“I challenge Stephen Colbert–man to man and spoon to spoon–to see
who has the ice cream flavor that people prefer,” said president of
VolunteerMatch, Greg Baldwin. “We trust the judgment of a nation of
volunteers and the Colbert Nation to pick the winner.” In the video
below, you get a sense of Baldwin’s playful personality, a type that
fits and helps promote the Ben & Jerry’s brand.

After trying each flavor, consumers are encouraged to vote
to help determine the winner. Throughout the campaign, VolunteerMatch
and other education-related causes benefit, a straight-forward CSR
angle that both Target and Ben & Jerry’s use to help boost sales.

Just a few days ago, it was announced by the Food & Drink Innovation Network in the UK that Ben & Jerry’s has not only re-designed its frozen yogurt flavors, but Phish Food and Chocolate Fudge Brownie have also gone fair trade. Looks like the company is innovating up a storm in its public relations and cross-sectoral collaboration efforts.

Ben & Jerry’s has a long history of innovating in volunteerism, corporate social responsibility, and fair trade. With their own “hippie” beginnings, the company’s latest efforts makes sense, stretching across sectors and media platforms.

About the author

Jenara is an overseas reporter for Fast Company and a freelance writer/producer in Asia, regularly on CNNGo, and a graduate of Harvard and UC Berkeley.

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