Can a pro-ice cream campaign appeal to the lactose-intolerant, the fat-fighting, the calorie-conscious, and the cholesterol-aware? Haagen Dazs is making it happen. The premium ice cream maker is addressing the plight of the honey bee, which has people of all ages, sizes, and dietary preferences abuzz.

In 2006, the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) or Honey Bee Depopulation Syndrome (HBDS), observed in now-nonexistent feral bee colonies for over 30 years, had reached new proportions. USDA survey shows that 36% of America’s 2.4m hives were lost to CCD in 2008. The syndrome’s cause has been speculated from radiation (e.g., cell phone towers), to pesticides, to fungus, to beekeeping practices, and hundreds of growers are in fear for their crops. This is particularly of consequence in California’s $30b agriculture industry, which is the world’s fifth largest supplier of food and agriculture commodities.

With the hd♥hb campaign, Haagen Dazs is strategically linking its Social Responsibility efforts to the core of its brand. Without bees, the all-natural flavors in the ice cream maker’s products would not be available, and Haagen Dazs’s revenues would decline even without pressures put on by enviro-conscious competitors. Haagen Dazs has renewed commitment to identifying the root cause and a solution by:

  1. Doubling its annual donation to agricultural research centers at Penn State and UC Davis for a total over $0.5m in 2009,
  2. Creating a Vanilla Honey Bee flavor with proceeds going to research, and
  3. Generating a successful viral social media buzz through videos and public engagement announcements on its educational website (sweeping a Gold Effie award for marketing excellence).

Haagen Dazs was even invited to testify in front of a US Congress committee to urge allocation of additional funds to research.

hd♥hb is an example of a smart CSR strategy – one that both creates and protects wealth, and engages the company’s core business objectives and core competencies. It involves the concerned consumers, too — Haagen Dazs’s dancing bees’ call to action already brought in an additional $30,000 to the research center at UC Davis.

Don’t care for ice cream? Take note – honey bees pollinate dozens of other berries, fruits and veggies you love, including cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, string beans, apples, mangos, cucumbers, broccoli, onions, cashews, and coffee beans. Yes, coffee.

To learn more about CCD go here, here, or here. To help the bees, go here.


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