Ben & Jerry’s Names Benders Top Marketer

Ben & Jerry’s Homemade last week welcomed aboard Larry Benders as chief marketing officer, a new position at the South Burlington, Vt.-based ice cream maker.
Benders, who brings a wealth of packaged-goods experience to Ben & Jerry’s, spent the past year at Coors Brewing Co. in Golden, Colo., as vice president of international marketing. Prior to that, he worked for three years at Nabisco, overseeing hot-cereal advertising created by Foote, Cone & Belding, New York.
Ben & Jerry’s also reported its first earnings gain in more than a year. For the quarter ended Sept. 27, the company disclosed a net income of about $2.5 million, a 40 percent gain over the same quarter a year ago.
Company officials attributed the upturn in part to advertising efforts promoting Ben & Jerry’s super-premium ice cream. The company has been battling H€agen-Dazs for super-premium supremacy, with each brand claiming about 40 percent of the market, Ben & Jerry’s officials said.
McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., which recently was named Ben & Jerry’s first agency of record, has been working on radio ads for the client. The company previously handled ad chores in-house.
In the first seven months of 1997, Ben & Jerry’s spent $2 million on advertising, according to Competitive Media Reporting. The ice cream maker is likely to increase ad spending and premiere its first TV spots next year, sources said.
Benders said it would be “premature” to discuss specific plans. “We’re heading in the right direction. We want the momentum to continue,” he said.
“Ben & Jerry’s is one of the most powerful brands out there today,” said Don Maurer, president and chief executive officer of McKinney & Silver. “Their ice cream as well as their values are second to none, which is why they’ve built such a deep and devoted customer following.”
Benders agreed Ben & Jerry’s socially conscious positioning is a key factor in building the brand over the long haul. –with Nora FitzGerald