Lush, Ben & Jerry’s & Corporate Activism

Corporate slogans and tag-lines often come across at best entertaining, and at worst insincere and irritating. It’s not often that a company (particularly a successful, global and wealthy corporation) will come out with any sort of marketing scheme that says something important, something controversial and something that may affect people’s decision to purchase from them. Which is why the recent marketing campaigns by Lush Australia and Ben and Jerry’s international are setting an amazing new trend of corporate activism. As problematic as the phrase ‘corporate activism’ is, this decision to support political movements and remove themselves out of a detached capitalist mode of being is at once admirable and surprising.

Ben & Jerry’s, the popular international ice cream chain which is sold globally, recently made a statement in the ‘what’s new’ section of their website stating that they were taking a stand on the issue of African Americans being killed at an unequally high rate by law enforcement officials. The statement can be found here, and is powerful in it’s clear stance on the subject. The company calls for people to take a stand and to understand that the struggle for justice is not over in America, and that things must change. Whilst this does not directly relate to our chosen issue of refugees in Australia- it does show the power and impact of a large and respected company taking a stand.

Recently, I visited the Town Hall (Sydney) branch of Lush Australia, and was amazed to see display screens and pamphlets calling to remove refugees from Manus Island, displaying the #bringthemhere hashtag that has been popularised by non-profit organisation GoGet!. Here are some images of what I was greeted with upon entering the store:

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It was amazing to see a political cause so close to my heart displayed in one of my favourite stores. It was amazing to think that this is one of the first things shoppers would see when entering the store. That you couldn’t enter the store without having to confront these images, and reconcile the horrible human rights violations happening on Manus Island with your day to day life. Statements made by detainees such as “the thing I miss most about my kids [who are in Australia].. is sitting down to dinner together.” This is immediately emotionally compelling, it presents a situation all Australians (indeed, all humans) can empathise with: the simple, human desire for connectedness with one’s family- to be in the same place and the same home to share time together. The corporate becomes political, and our lives are enriched by seeing companies taking a strong stance on a critical human rights stance.

-R.G.

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