Haagen Daz Case Study

Dance Adams

Communications 642

Case Study 2

Haagen-Dazs and Honey Bees




Haagen Daz arose from the passion of one Reuben Mattus, who sold ice cream from his mother’s wagon on the streets of the Bronx. In 1961 Reuben and his wife, Rose, began the company we know today. Haagen Daz sold out to Pillsbury in 1983 and as of the writing of this book was owned by General Mills, Nestles and its subsidiary Dryers. General Mills is a global business with products in most American homes that include Cheerios, Betty Crocker and Green Giant just to name a few. According to the corporate website they have annual sales of 15 billion dollars.1


The problem was that 40% of the all natural flavors of Haagen Daz faced future potential danger because of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). With this growing problem the company’s reputation of all natural ingredients and the sales that were based on them were at possibly at risk.


Strengths :their first was the massively deep pockets of General Mills. Second, they were the first company to back research into CCD, giving them the appearance of caring. Also there was research already in progress before they made the business decision to join the fight. Further more, they were in no real immediate danger from this threat. Haagen Daz had a crisis communication plan already in place and had used it in the past. There were blogs with people showing interest in the issue, along with an artistic film “The Bee Keepers” shown at the Sundance Film festival. Their demographic of buyers were affluent, educated, older Americans who had the money to care about the subject. The United States government backed the issue with $1.5 million added to the fund under the “Pollinator Recovery Project.”

Weakness: Their weakness was the crisis itself. Haagen Daz had to generate interest in the problem within their marketing demographic.

Opportunity: They had the opportunity to be the first company to take ownership of this existing condition. They had the opportunity to increase sales, show that they were a company that appeared to care about the environment and raise their social capital standing with their publics.

Threats: there was no immediate threat to the company itself, as they were still able to produce their product in the same manner. However there was a future threat to their product line if “ccd” were to continue.


      1. February 19 2008 Haagen Daz launched “ Haagen Daz loves Honey Bee’s campaign” with the following goals.

A) Business goal : to drive sales and have a revenue increase of 1% over the previous year

B) awareness and comprehension : which entailed the desire to increase the public knowledge of the honey bee crisis, promote their campaign, and to increase the consumer media impressions by 25% .

C) to have 125 million media impressions in the first year of their project.

D) Behavior : to have their consumers plant bee friendly flowers, to have “unique visitors”2 there help the honey bees web page and to have more recommendations of their ice cream brand.

      1. conduct focus groups to ascertain the public attitude and awareness of the crisis

      2. to use their first mover status as an add gimmick linking the plight of the honey bees with Haagen Daz

      3. donations to Pennsylvania State University and the University of California at Davis $250,000 and $ 10,000 respectively.

      4. Hired two beekeepers one on each coast to high light the struggles that beekeepers face

      5. instituted a “bee board” which consisted of :

        A) Dianna Cox-Foster, project leadership.

        B) Dennis VanEngelsdorp, bee specialist

        C) Robert Berghage, professor of horticulture at PSU

          1. Sue Cobey, bee breeder and geneticist

            E) Eric Mussen, 2006 beekeeper of the year

            F) Michael Parrela, entomology professor

            G) Randy Oliver, beekeeper for 40 years

            H) David Hackenberg, beekeeping expert

      1. launched vanilla honey bee flavored ice cream

      2. company vowed to donate a percentage of the profits of this favor to ccd research.

      3. Put special logo on the underside of lids that they believed to be bee dependent.

      4. Fed CNNMONEY.COM the information because of their ability to affect other forms of media.

      5. Expanded their usual media targets to a broader audience

      6. Ran print, broadcast, radio, and internet advertisements

      7. Created “b roll” which consisted of plant footage, comments from their own board, and footage of bees pollinating crop and flowers

      8. launched the million seed challenge using social media sites to encourage the planting of flowers

      9. Haagen Daz hosted a briefing on Capitol hill with the pollinator partnership on the plight of the honey bees


Their campaign was a great success, there was a 5.2% sales increase. They claimed 277 million media impressions and $1.5 million in advertising equivalences. They had 1097 news placements. A ROI analysis stated 93% of the coverage they received to be positive. An omnibus survey suggested that they succeeded in the awareness goals and they gave away more than 1 million seeds. There were just over 450,000 unique visitors to their web page. Over 950 consumers and businesses chimed in with suggestions and requested information. Haagen Daz reported a 13% increase in brand advocacy. They won several awards including ; a Clio in pr, a Cannes gold lion, a Silver Anvil, and a Silver SABRE . Also a PR Week award. It should be noted that no solid information was gathered by the sources listed in the book with regards to what was causing colony collapse disorder as of the writing of our text.


“General Mills Inc. said today it will eliminate 850 jobs.”3


The quote at the beginning of this section is a prodome for all races, colors and religious affiliations. Your job is not safe! This company decided to invest its resources in a fashion that blatantly showed disregard for their employees. I have heard many managers say that employees are the biggest part of their overhead. However, it would appear that a major part of the Haagen Daz brand’s overhead was this manufactured crisis. I wonder if those 850 people who now are faced with unemployment are happy that General Mills spent their future paychecks for a problem that did not threaten their company any time soon, if at all. For me the awards that Haagen Daz and General Mills received for their effort is a knife in the back of their soon to be layed off employees.

Haagen Daz in their efforts to pad their bottom line and glom on to an existing problem, though reprehensible, is truly brilliant. They used their pr department, in or out of house, wonderfully. They left no stone unturned, no avenue to self promote went by the way side, and they turned a profit while the were doing it. The campaign became its own subculture, rightly compared to David Kurresh, instead of promises of heaven, these new converts were promised a way to help mother earth.. Their brand loyal public ate it up like their favorite flavor of Haagen Daz ice cream. I am truly impressed with this use of crisis management. Know your Public and what is important to them and most important of all, sell baby sell!

2Kathleen Fearn-Banks. Crisis Communications: A Casebook Approach. New York: Routledge, 2011. p 196.

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3 Responses to Haagen Daz Case Study

  1. l992 says:

    You are a very good writer! But I also agree with you, that this use of crisis management was very “brilliant”! I’m sure this use of crisis mangement could have gone wrong in some way, but I also feel like it was a win win for Haagen-Dazs!

  2. lynnluig says:

    I love your alternative perspective Dance! Most of us have glorified the intention of Haagen Dazs as a company. You have touched on some very important facts. In my opinion all large corporations, such as General Mills demonstrate anti-social traits. They all want to be seen as caring and giving but are profit driven and completely selfish. Filling the pockets of the top executives seems to be the goal, not helping the people who work hard for them or their customers health. If you’re seeking a refreshing story of a truly compassionate and level headed company, check out Dr. Bronner’s soap. There is a documentary available on Netflix. Truly kind and giving companies do exist! Dr. Bronner’s executives make the same as their janitors. Also, 70% of their profits are given to charity.

  3. karobinson5 says:

    Dance you are right. I didn’t read your posting before I wrote mine, but we came to the same conclusions. You were jut able to express it far better than I did. I think that HD did “glom on” to the honey bee issue and turned it into more of a crisis. The situation with the honey bees was used for the benefit of the company. Instead of developing a honey bee friendly flavor, HD increased its profits with a new honey bee vanilla flavor. HD was very smart. They say an opportunity to turn a crisis into public awareness campaign that increased their profit. Maybe they should have invested that profit more wisely and employees would not be losing their jobs.

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