On Tuesday, 15-year-old snack bar brand Kind announced its first foray into gender equality activism. For March, a limited-edition Equality bar will be available for sale on the brand’s website, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Alice Paul Institute—named for the suffragette who followed her voting rights activism by co-authoring the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
The campaign, pegged to Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, is the latest entry into corporate advocacy from the company that refers to itself as a “not-only-for-profit” and has donated over $34 million to charitable causes.
Kind settled on the ERA for the Mar. 2020 campaign, said Kind chief of staff Elle Lanning, because passing the ERA could have a cascading effect that would impact many different areas of gender discrimination. And because even though this year marks the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, the U.S. Constitution still does not explicitly state that women are equal to men.
“Part of the reason there are so many different women’s issues is [that] we have to fight for ourselves on an issue by issue basis,” Lanning said. “The team felt like this was kind of the broadest solution to focus on.”
Kind is also partnering with Resistbot on a direct-to-text Equality Bot that sends a petition to a user’s state officials asking them to pass the ERA, Paul’s legislation seeking to guarantee equal rights regardless of gender through a constitutional amendment. The ERA was introduced in 1923 and was reintroduced in every congressional session until it passed in 1972—with a caveat. While the ERA passed both Congress and the Senate, it failed the requirement for ratification by 38 states by the deadline.
This January, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA, bringing life back into the effort to enshrine gender equality in the U.S. Constitution. According to the Alice Paul Institute, either Congress has to vote again, or the states have to argue that the original requirement has been met, albeit 48 years later.
Kind’s Equality Bot won’t only pop up on your phone. The company is sending freestanding kiosks—digitally registering student petitions—to college campuses in states like Georgia, Arizona and Florida that have yet to ratify the ERA.
Lanning noted that momentum around the ERA this year played a role in the company’s campaign choice. For every Snack and Give Back campaign, she said, the company carefully chooses a partner that has a strong stance within the specific issue space.
“We try to come from a place of learning and [to ask] what would provide tangible solutions,” said Lanning.
One thing the Kind team doesn’t want to do is just market a product, donate the profits and leave it at that.
“A lot of brands do that type of work and pass along the proceeds. So the important aspect for us is that there’s some type of engagement or activation,” said Lanning. “In this case, a very actionable one that can help to get this amendment ratified.”
Brand petitions have helped drive engagement for food companies like Tillamook, the Oregon dairy co-op that petitioned the White House in 2015 asking to have the word “American” removed from processed, individually-wrapped cheese. But Kind’s Equality Bot is the first brand partnership for Resistbot.
And it’s not the first time Kind used its brand power to petition the government. In March 2019, the company’s executive vp and general counsel Justin Mervis filed a petition to the Food and Drug Administration asking the FDA to update the regulations on nutrient content claims. In the petition, Mervis said that too many foods were being marketed as a “good source” of nutrients like protein or fiber when overall they were basically junk food.
Last June, Kind launched its Snack and Give Back program that uses limited-edition packaging to drive proceeds to nonprofits. The first two special edition snack bars raised money for the LGBTQ community via New York’s Ali Forney Center and for veterans via wounded service members’ group Hope For The Warriors.
While the special edition bars are currently only sold online, the company said they are looking towards potentially expanding them to stores next year.
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