Ben & Jerry’s Kills e-mail in Flavor of Social Media

Ben & Jerry's Social Media

By Erik Qualman

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The newest flavor from Ben & Jerry’s is Social Media Mango-Tango.  In an e-mail last week to their UK subscriber base Ben & Jerry’s indicated they would be focusing more on communication via social media.  Instead of multiple e-mails to communicate with their ice cream lovers, they are focusing their efforts on the 1.3 million fans they have on Facebook & Twitter [@cherrygarcia has over 11,000 followers].

This has risen eyebrows across the marketing industry as Ben & Jerry’s is one of the first major brands to reduce e-mail in favor social media.  Time will tell if this is a good move and if their US operations decide to take a similar tact.  Speculation for the move centers on:

  • Loyalists indicated they were tired of e-mails from B & J; hurting the brand vs. helping
  • B & J needed to focus internal resources/reduce costs
  • B & J wants all loyalists less digitally fragmented
  • Gen Y & Z find e-mail passe
  • Social Media success for B & J made this move possible
  • Let the loyalists tell the story via social media rather than corporate

I don’t see this [aggressively limiting e-mail] becoming a trend in the foreseeable future for most brands, but for a select few they may follow Ben & Jerry’s UK lead.  Below is the original e-mail and also a clarifying note from the PR Team in Vermont [don’t jump off buildings we aren’t getting rid of e-mail completely around the world!].  On a related note, if you haven’t tried the 7-layer coconut brownie ice cream, it is amazing.  Oh, look at that, World of Mouth in action.


Sean Greenwood,  B&J’s PR Director released this to help clear up any misunderstanding  from the HubSpot post and any subsequent speculation [see above]:

“In general, I think it’s a bit of a misunderstanding.  The announcement came from our UK team, who was basically sharing that they planned to reach out to their fans via social media moving forward.  I think they wanted to alleviate any fears from fans who previously received a newsletter style email to think that they had somehow fallen off the list.  I believe they’re still keeping email as a venue for special events/opportunities as they mentioned they might still reach out via email.

Again, this was a note from our UK team.  I believe the rest of the Ben & Jerry’s folks around the globe (including us here at the HQ in Vermont who support the U.S. and the globe) are planning to continue to use: email, social media, text messaging, augmented reality, snail mail, vanilla guerrilla marketing, grassroots Social Mission endeavors, sky writers, deep-sea divers and of course… scoop trucks on the road.”

– Sean Greenwood, Ben & Jerry’s
[Source for Sean’s comments are from Jim Ducharme’s]

It will be certainly interesting to see how this all plays out, in the meantime it’s definitely given us food for thought.

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Three articles that go more in-depth on this:

SCOOP: Ben & Jerry’s responds to claims that they will drop email marketing by Jim Ducharme

Ben and Jerry’s Abandon Email, and their Fans by Charles Nicholls

HubSpot: Ben & Jerry’s Drops Email Marketing in Favor of Social Media by Brian Whalley


16 responses to “Ben & Jerry’s Kills e-mail in Flavor of Social Media

  1. Very good Put, i have being reading this web page the past few time but right away when i used your time to say thanks to make the data you , yourself are taking turns around.

  2. The genius chained to the official table, should die or go mad, in the same way, as the person with a mighty constitution at sedentary life and modest behavior dies of an apoplectic seizure.

  3. you guy have the best homemade ice cream

  4. Great article. It’s only a matter of time before more and more companies follow in their footsteps. Social media is exploding right now and it’s important for businesses to realize that and then take advantage of it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Interesting, I just sent a final goodbye email to my list, recommending they follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or RSS.

  6. This is the first article on this topic that makes sense. Others conveniently left out some relevant facts to suit their own agenda. Oh, the web!

    • Mitch:

      Thanks for stopping by. I know that some of the facts were late to come in, so I had to include some of this news. My guess is many others will make adjustments today as well.



  7. As usual, Eric, another timely post from you.

    Last week I started reading Gary V’s book “Crush It” which deals with building your biz via SM and was thinking about whether we had reached the point where businesses would stop doing e-mail blasts in favor of SM platforms only.

    Obviously, my question has been answered.

  8. I think it’s a pretty smart idea on their part to keep up with the changing trends. They would probably miss out on a huge internet audience by only doing emails.

  9. Thanks Justin for the kind words! I will enjoy watching, along with you, how this all transpires. Best!


  10. Nice article. Ben and Jerry’s is always on the forefront when it comes to clever/innovative marketing. Social Media is the newest marketing platform and I’m sure more companies will follow suit.

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