How Häagen-Dazs met its $1.5M commitment to underrepresented creators

How Häagen-Dazs met its $1.5M commitment to underrepresented creators

In the wake of global protests against racism and police violence in the summer of 2020, many marketers assessed how they could use their brands to forge a more diverse and inclusive world, in advertising and beyond.

At the time, there was a deluge of plans and pledges made around diversity, equity and inclusion, but in the three years since, the volume and intensity of such calls has decreased. Some marketers have seen their efforts face culture war backlash, while others have been dragged to court over their progress (or lack thereof) in meeting their goals.

That is not the case for Häagen-Dazs: The ice cream brand in March 2021 pledged to support diverse creators with $1.5 million doled out over three years, a commitment that it fulfilled in May.

“We don’t look at purpose as a one-time thing. It truly has been a commitment and really an evolving commitment,” said Elizabell Marquez, CMO at Häagen-Dazs parent Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream. “Our team continues to be inspired by the creativity and the passion of our founders, and that’s why we’ve continued to support nonprofit organizations.”

Häagen-Dazs has distributed funds to a variety of nonprofits spanning music, fashion, art and culinary disciplines. In 2021, donations of $100,000 each were sent to Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab, Allies in Arts, La Cocina, She Is the Music and The Council of Fashion Designers of America. Similar donations to The Tank, Free the Work, Hot Bread Kitchen, Support Creatives and Alvin Ailey followed in 2022. In April, the brand made its largest commitment to date — $500,000 — in partnership with musician Anderson Paak’s Brandon Anderson Foundation.

“We love [Paak] because his organization also shares a very similar mission to what we have been wanting to do over the last few years around uplifting and engaging communities through access to the arts and experiences,” Marquez said.

Long-term thinking 

For Häagen-Dazs and its CMO, a financial contribution is only the first part of its commitments. Beyond that, the brand has worked to engage organizations by utilizing them to fuel a #ThatsDazs campaign launched in hand with its diversity pledge.

“This has not just been a one-time donation, but it’s been really about partnering with these communities and finding ways to bring them to the forefront through our creative work and our partnerships,” Marquez explained.

For example, the brand’s donation to She Is The Music helped back the nonprofit’s Connect TogetHER Mentorship program. In turn, She Is the Music provided the DJ sets for Häagen-Dazs’ Buttered Cookie Cone Festival launch. Similarly, thanks to the ice cream brand’s donation to Allies in Arts, the nonprofit was able to commission queer Chicago-based artists Sam Kirk and Jenny Q to create an original mural for Chicago Pride that then became a part of Häagen-Dazs’ out-of-home (OOH) efforts. 

In September, Häagen-Dazs will re-team with La Cocina for a San Francisco-based event called Tacolado — a mashup of taco and “helado,” which is Spanish for “ice cream” — that will help celebrate rising culinary talent during National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Häagen-Dazs is also building relationships with creators and bringing them into the process of making #ThatsDazs ad creative. The brand tapped creator Tyrell Hampton for OOH and print photography in 2021 and 2022, and brought Hampton in front of the camera in TV advertising to promote its Butter Cookie Cone product. That relationship is an example of long-term thinking, even as other brands pull back from diversity efforts — possibly at their own peril.

“Purpose has become a key pillar of our brand. Our team is already thinking about ways that we’re going to continue to support and foster all the great relationships that we have built over the last three years within the creative community,” Marquez said. “We’re looking for ways to continue to elevate talent and partner with these great organizations. So, more to come there from our brand.”

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