Although Häagen-Dazs is a distinctive and respected brand with a commitment to quality, it was facing some issues. Market share was being threatened, consumers had little connection with the brand, and price increases were hurting sales. Häagen-Dazs needed to become more contemporary and regain sales momentum.
Häagen-Dazs depends on bee pollination for more than 40% of its flavours. It discovered that Colony Collapse Disorder (a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or Western honey bee colony abruptly disappear) was a real risk to US agriculture and specifically Häagen-Dazs. With no bees there would be no natural flavors. With no natural flavors there could be no Häagen-Dazs.
Research showed that the Häagen-Dazs consumer is more mindful about what they eat and where it comes from. So Häagen-Dazs aligned with the CCD cause, allowing the brand to become a participant in a pressing issue of sustainability.
The hub of the campaign was created at www.helpthehoneybees.com; a site dedicated to CCD information. Häagen-Dazs then officially launched the "HD loves HB" campaign by announcing a $250,000 research grant to Penn State and setting up a board of bee experts to speak to media. In-store A new "Vanilla Honey Bee" flavor was introduced and Häagen-Dazs' bee-dependent flavours were branded with the "HD loves HB" logo. A print partnership with National Geographic, Martha Stewart Living and Gourmet created custom advertorials, and the first-ever plantable, seed-embedded paper insert ads, allowing readers to literally take the cause into their hands. PR was generated with a hip-hop Bee Dance viral video. Online, swarming bees landed on Epicurious.com's bee-dependent ingredients, illustrating CCD's potential impact. A Bee Graffiti contest on Facebook urged users to submit their best honey-bee inspired drawings.
As a result, unaided brand awareness increased from 29% to 36%. At launch, baseline sales of Haagen-Dazs increased 5.2% in April 2008 ($ volume). Consumers increased Häagen-Dazs' donation by 16.2% - $40,632 total. More significantly, the U.S. House Agricultural Subcommittee invited Häagen-Dazs to testify in June 2008 to urge Congress' support for CCD research. Representative Dennis Cardoza called Häagen-Dazs' involvement "extraordinary."