Ben & Jerry’s launches ice cream salvo at UK government immigration policy

Ben & Jerry’s was always likely to be an unruly member of the Unilever family but in the nearly 20 years since the FMCG giant bought it for north of $300m, life’s been pretty sweet all round.

That may change a bit now as B&J UK has entered the lists agains combative British home secretary Priti Patel with a number of tweets criticising her policy on illegal immigrants (well most people assume they’re illegal), purportedly flooding across the channel from France.

Priti’s friends (she does have a few) responded furiously. A Home Office source said: “Priti is working day and night to bring an end to these small boat crossings, which are facilitated by international criminal gangs and are rightly of serious concern to the British people.

“If that means upsetting the social media team for a brand of overpriced junk food, then so be it.”

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly added: “Can I have a large scoop of statistically inaccurate virtue signalling with my grossly overpriced ice cream, please?”

Quite like virtue signalling.

But should brands do it? What makes B&J, one of the leaders of the Facebook ad boycott, a trusted source on immigration?

Former Unilever CMO Keith Weed, who retired last year to tend alternative gardens at the Royal Horticultural Society and WPP, may be glad he’s out of it. CEO Alan Jope (relatively new to the role) has a tricky one here.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.