Mars Food is changing its Uncle Ben’s brand to Ben’s Original in a move that it says signals ‘the brand’s ambition to create a more inclusive future’.
The company announced that it would review the Uncle Ben’s brand back in June, in response to protests against systemic racism around the world.
Since the brand was introduced in the 1940s, its product packaging has featured an older African American man, sometimes dressed in a bow tie, an image which has been criticised for evoking servitude.
As part of this latest announcement, Mars has said that it will be removing this image to create ‘more equitable iconography’.
“Over the last several weeks, we have listened to thousands of consumers, our own associates and other stakeholders from around the world,” said Fiona Dawson, global president Mars Food, multisales and global customers.
“We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the previous brand, and as we announced in June, we have committed to change.”
Ben’s Original packaging will begin to roll out in 2021; meanwhile, Mars said that its rice range is setting out a new brand purpose to create opportunities focused on inclusivity.
According to Mars, Ben’s Original community outreach programmes will ensure underserved communities have access to nutritious meals, as well as help culinary entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds to get educational opportunities.
This work will begin in the US where the brand has established a partnership with National Urban League to support aspiring black chefs through a scholarship fund, before expanding to support other underserved communities around the world.
“Brands have an important role to play as we continue to navigate this moment of reconciliation regarding racial justice, diversity and inclusion,” said Marc Morial, president and CEO, National Urban League.
“We’re proud to partner with Ben’s Original as they evolve and embark on a new path with a new purpose, providing black communities here and abroad with more equitable opportunities in education and business.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020
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