Häagen-Dazs / Honey Bee Case Summary
Since 1961, Häagen-Dazs has been a leader in the ice cream industry. It has grown from a horse drawn wagon in the Bronx, NY to a multinational corporation. The vision of its original worker-bee, Reuben Mattus has been upheld through-out its history. Häagen-Dazs produces quality ice-cream from natural, pure ingredients from around the world. It is currently owned by General Mills and has an award winning public relations team. Häagen-Dazs’s PR team took initiative to support the honey bee depletion problem before any other company. For these reasons, Häagen-Dazs is a trusted and popular brand.
Over the past six years, it has become more apparent each year that the honey bee population has been decreasing. Although this may seem like good news to people who are allergic to bees, it can be a serious problem because the pollination of one third of our food supply depends on honey bees. It has been predicted that 60 years after the extinction of the honey bee, there will no longer be human life on earth. Forty percent of natural Häagen-Dazs ice-cream flavors include ingredients that are dependent on honey bee pollination.
Problems with the bee population started as early as 2003 when all of the honey bees in Uruguay died. 2007 was the year that the US recognized a marked decrease in the honey bee population. Since then, countries all over the world have recognized the decline. The cause of this alarming phenomenon has been termed Colony Collapse disorder. This identifies the problem of bees abandoning their hives and dying. The cause of CCD has been blamed on many things including global warming, cell phones, viruses, fungi, mites, pesticides and a change in the Earth’s magnetic field. Until research indicates a certain cause, a direct solution will not be able to be identified.
Community, consumer and employee relations contribute to an important part of a crises prevention plan. Häagen-Dazs has the advantage of a strong public relations team that was able to recognize the prodromes of the possible crisis of a shortage of or increase in price of many ingredients used in their products. Additionally, as a successful brand, Häagen-Dazs is owned by a wealthy corporation with available funds to invest in public relations programs.
Despite investing a large amount of money on research to discover the cause of CCD, it has not been determined. The possibility that ingredients will cost more or become unavailable in the future is still strong. Having a large number of honey bee dependant ingredients is Häagen-Dazs’s biggest weakness.
Häagen-Dazs seized the opportunity to become the first business to recognize CCD as a threat to humanity and show genuine interest in public health. With the help of large corporations, important research can be conducted, employment opportunities increase, a solution may be found, lives can be saved and General Mills can continue to accumulate success and wealth.
If a solution is not found soon enough, CCD will eliminate honey bees and threaten the food supply as well as business that depends on it like Häagen-Dazs.
Overall, the strategy seemed to be to create a positive image and strong connection with consumers of the Häagen-Dazs brand by supporting the honey bee population.
- Häagen-Dazs’s public relations team took advantage of clear communication and quality internal relations when it listened to employees in their ad department who expressed concern about CCD after recognizing the trending blog topic.
- The “Häagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees” campaign was launched in 2007 with authority. Several goals were established: Increase revenue growth by more than 1% in a year, increase awareness of the honey bee decline, increase media impressions on the brand by 25%, convince people to plant bee friendly seeds, increase new visitors to the website helpthehoneybees.com and increase consumer recommendations of their brand.
- $250,000 was donated to Penn State University and the University of California, Davis to support research. $10,000 was donated to The Pollinator Partnership.
- Creation of the “Bee Board” included a group of expert spokespeople including the head of the CCD Working Group, a bee specialist from PSU, a horticulture professor and bee garden expert from PSU, an experienced bee breeder/geneticist from UCD, Eric Mussen (“Beekeeper of the year, 2006”), an entomologist from UCD, Randy Oliver and David Hackenberg (both experienced beekeepers).
- Launch of a new flavor of ice-cream called “vanilla honey bee,” a new logo printed on honey bee dependent flavors, information about CCD printed under the lids and a vow to donate a portion of sales to CCD research.
- Announcement of the campaign at a key industry conference.
- Media launch of the brand’s involvement including national media such as newsprint, broadcast, radio, magazines, and websites.
- Online outreach including Craigslist and Meetup.com to promote planting of at least one million bee friendly seeds. Seed packets labeled “HD loves HB” were distributed to supporters.
- Ice cream social on Capital Hill during national Pollinator Week which resulted in more news coverage and positive publicity.
- Sales increased by 5.2% that year.
- The number of media impressions that resulted was worth about $1.5 million in advertising.
- The brand was strongly associated with support of the bee population by the public.
- More than 1,200,000 bee friendly seeds were distributed (and potentially planted).
- Helpthehoneybees.com received 469,798 unique visitors.
- Häagen-Dazs experienced a 13% increase in its brand advocacy rating, exceeding its competitors.
- Multiple awards were granted for public relations including a gold Cannes Lion for Corporate Responsibility and Environmental Issues.
Häagen-Dazs has shown amazing philanthropy by engaging in a campaign to support awareness of CCD. I have been aware of CCD for years now and wonder if I originally learned about it through these efforts. I remember visiting helpthehoneybees.com for the first time years ago. I have to say however, I did not associate Häagen-Dazs with this problem until this assignment came along. So, their efforts did not affect me personally. As a Buddhist and environmentalist, I believe in compassion for all sentient beings and I understand the interconnectedness of all life. I support the honey bee population by planting wildflowers as what you might call a “guerilla gardener”, supporting flower farmers by buying cut flowers as often as possible, and will now give myself permission to eat more Häagen-Dazs ice-cream.