Schweddy Balls, Linsanity, Hubby Hubby and Hazed & Confused.
At first glance, these names may seem mildly offensive. That is, until you know that they are ice cream flavors produced by Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s.
Hazed and Confused
Hazed & Confused is the most recent flavor to spark controversy. This fusion of chocolate and hazelnut was released in February as a part of the Core collection.
Most people would associate this flavor to the famous Led Zeppelin song, “Hazed and Confused” or the 1993 film starring Matthew McConaughey, “Dazed and Confused,” according to Celebrity Café. This was not the connection Lianne and Brian Kowiak made when they read the product’s name.
The Kowiaks, who lost their son in a fraternity hazing incident, contacted Ben & Jerry’s in September, claiming that the product name is “insensitive towards hazing victims,” according to Buzzfeed.
After hearing complaints from the Kowiaks and others, Buzzfeed reported that Ben & Jerry’s spokesman Sean Greenwood responded to their letters saying that they never meant to associate the ice cream with hazing.
Greenwood also defended the name by saying, “Not a lot of words rhyme with ‘hazelnut.’”
The brand then made a decision to keep the current name amidst the complaints. According to the Huffington Post, the company did not feel there was anything that “condoned hazing, supported hazing or even inferred hazing.” Greenwood noted that the flavor was named solely for the pop-culture reference.
Interestingly enough, the day the decision was published, the Boston Globe released a feature on Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen regarding his coffee rituals. It doesn’t seem like this was a coincidence in crisis management tactics.
This isn’t the first conflict faced by Ben & Jerry’s.
In 2012, they apologized for their racially insensitive flavor, Taste The Lin-Sanity, according to the Huffington Post. The flavor was supposed to highlight professional basketball player Jeremy Lin but included fortune cookie pieces. The public found the cookie pieces to be an Asian stereotype, so they were replaced with waffle-cone pieces.
Other individuals complained that the Saturday Night Live inspired Schweddy Balls flavor was inappropriate for children.
Even with these complaints, the company has never shied away from controversy. In 2009, they renamed their famous Chubby Hubby flavor to Hubby Hubby to show support of marriage equality, according to a report from Cone Communications.
While most corporations don’t take public stances on social issues, it proved beneficial for Ben & Jerry’s as reported by Cone.
Do you think these risks are worth taking from a public relations standpoint? Did the company make the right decision in keeping the Hazed & Confused flavor name?