Ben & Jerry’s provided a textbook case in how to creatively manage consumer backlash when it responded quickly, appropriately and with ease to criticism about its new, controversial ice cream flavor.
Angered over the irreverent flavor name Schweddy Balls, conservative group One Million Moms called for a boycott of the flavor in mid-September, pressuring stores not to carry the product. Ben & Jerry's spokesperson Sean Greenwood told the Associated Press on Oct. 20 that about one-third of stores that carry Ben & Jerry’s products are stocking Schweddy Balls.
Instead of retaliating with a war of words, Ben & Jerry’s offered an alternative way for its customers to purchase the ice cream flavor.
“If you’re having trouble getting your hands on Schweddy Balls, you can always order it online!” Ben & Jerry’s said on its Facebook page on Oct. 25, followed by a link to buy the product.
The post generated over 2,000 likes and more than 350 comments on Facebook, most of which are positive and reflect the humorous nature of the flavor. One Facebook commenter wrote, “I’m so angry that the stores don’t carry it, it’s an outrage, I love you Schweddy Balls.”
According to AP, Suzi Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop chain, said, “We haven't received any complaints that we're not carrying that flavor. However, if we do get feedback from customers that they want it, we'll certainly revisit the decision."
The consumer tide may turn in Ben & Jerry’s favor, now that the company has inspired its customers to provide it with free, positive PR.