As the author of liberty draws her first inquisitive breath, a disconcerting echo of disloyalty reverberates through Wall Street. Unilever, the corporate behemoth that cradles the ice cream sensation Ben & Jerry’s in its expansive portfolio, has watched helplessly as billions vanished from its market cap. The swirl of capital loss was churned from an Independence Day tweet slung from the audacious Ben & Jerry’s Twitter handle, a bitter, unpatriotic note tucked into a country that tore itself from the yoke of tyranny to taste freedom.
According to data drawn from Google Finance, Unilever’s market cap, a numerical testament of investor faith and esteem, took an alarming plunge. A drop from $52.32 to $51.37 per share is more than a ripple; it’s a seismic wave. The fallout? An estimated $2.5 billion shaved off from Unilever’s market capitalization. But numbers only tell a part of the self-inflicted catastrophe that unfurled on this incident.
This 4th of July, it's high time we recognize that the US exists on stolen Indigenous land and commit to returning it. Learn more and take action now: https://t.co/45smaBmORH pic.twitter.com/a6qp7LXUAE
— Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) July 4, 2023
The tweet in question landed on the hallowed day of July 4th, a poorly timed firecracker. Ben & Jerry’s audaciously proclaimed the US a nation built upon ‘stolen Indigenous land.’ Not contradictory enough? The company then looped in a link to a petition on their website advocating for the return of the iconic Mount Rushmore to the Lakota tribe. This, while the Vermont-based company stands on unreturned land recognised by Native American tribes, in stark contradiction of its verbose posturing.
The path of left-wing activism has been a well-worn rut that Ben & Jerry’s has routinely traversed. Spectacles were raised when in July 2021, the company vowed to cease selling ice cream in select Israeli regions; a demonstration of their ‘progressive advocacy’. Yet, the company does not hesitate to peddle their famously flavoured scoops amongst the red states, where voting and abortion laws meet their disapproval.
The taste of controversy leaves a distinctly unpleasant aftertaste in the marketplace. Back in April 2021, the company sparked widespread heated debate by amplifying the calls to defund the police, a stance echoed by Black Lives Matter and other activist groups. The nadir came during the violence-riddled Black Lives Matter uprising in June 2020, when Ben & Jerry’s commenced its clarion call for draining police finances. Partners in this political play include the outspoken activist and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Democratic Missouri Rep. Cori Bush. The political mayhem is seasoned with an on-going class action lawsuit accusing the company of using migrant child labour to produce its ice cream.
Undeniably, corporations interweaving ideological campaigning into branding is a trend on the rise. Bud Light and Target also navigated consumer boycotts due to association with LGBT causes and transgender ideology. Yet, the backlash faced by Unilever and Ben & Jerry’s has struck a resonant chord.
In conclusion, Unilever has found itself in a whirlwind caused by the reckless ultra-progressiveness of one of its brands – Ben & Jerry’s. While freedom of speech is a right we all cherish, there are always consequences to being fragrantly unpatriotic, especially when your opinion clashes with sensitivities of those who hold the purse strings. The market sends a formidable message – economic loss as a result of patriotism cannot be ignored. Companies that indulge in activism and ‘woke capitalism’ need to recognize this, and find a measure of balance, less they lose more than just market cap. The liberty, the very essence of ownership of a publicly-traded company, thus forms a juxtaposition with Ben & Jerry’s flagrant disregard of patriotism, leaving a sour taste on the financier’s palate long after the ice cream has melted away.