Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc.: “Yo! I’m Your CEO!”
The headlines said it all. Ben & Jerry’s, the company that had built its success, as much on its down-home image and folksy idealism, as on its super-rich ice cream, was at a crossroads. Having been started in 1978 in a renovated Vermont gas station by childhood friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the unconventional company soon grew into a $140 million powerhouse that was rivaled only by Haagen-Dazs in the super premium category of the ice-cream market. With its many donations and policies promoting corporate responsibility, Ben & Jerry’s took great pride in its success combining social activism with financial viability. But in mid-1994, the outlook was not so rosy. Sales were flat, profits were down, and the company stock price had fallen to half what it was at the end of 1992. In its 1993 annual report, Ben & Jerry’s admitted that some flavors of its “all natural” ice cream included ingredients that were not, in fact, all natural. And staffers within the company reportedly criticized it for lack of leadership.
On June 13, Ben & Jerry’s announced that Ben was stepping down as CEO, and that it would abandon its longtime cap on executive salaries in order to help it find a new one. The message was clear, Ben & Jerry’s was no longer the company it once was. For many, the question then was, what would it become?
With a marketing flair befitting its tradition of wacky promotional tactics, Ben & Jerry’s set out to find its new leader by announcing “Yo! I’m Your CEO!” contest. Customers were asked to send in a lid from a container of their favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream flavor along with a 500-word essay explaining “Why I Would Be a Great CEO for Ben & Jerry’s.” The winner would get to run the company, the runner-up would get a lifetime supply of ice cream, and the losers would get a rejection letter “suitable for framing.” (Taken from Ben & Jerry’s Case Study)
Write an entry for Ben & Jerry’s “Yo, I’m Your CEO” Contest. Instead of only 100 words, your response must be approximately 500 words. You want to keep your audience in mind, therefore, you will probably want to do a bit of research about the Ben & Jerry’s company. You will need to combine your knowledge about persuasive writing, job search materials and marketing. Since they follow a rather non-traditional approach, you will also want to think a bit outside of the box and add some creativity and innovation into your entry.
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