Mars Gives Uncle Ben’s a New Name, Removes Package Imagery
Mars Inc. announced today the rebrand of its Uncle Ben’s rice products to “Ben’s Original,” joining a handful of companies reviewing or changing product branding rooted in racist imagery.
“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 of Mars Food for multi-sales 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.”
In June, the food manufacturer promised to “evolve” the Uncle Ben’s brand amid a nationwide uproar over racism following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Mars is also removing the image of a white-haired black man on the packaging to create a more equitable iconography.
“The brand is not just changing its name and image on the package,” Mars said. “It is also taking action to enhance inclusion and equity and setting out its new brand purpose to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table.”
Several other consumer brands made similar commitments. Quaker Oats pledged to remove its Aunt Jemima logo from syrup and package packages, and Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream also said it would change the “derogatory” Eskimo Pie brand name. B&G Foods, the maker of Cream of Wheat, is also reviewing the image of a black chef that’s used on its boxes.
Ben’s Original has been produced in Greenville, Miss., for more than 40 years. In addition to its rebrand, Mars will invest in the local community to address issues that have plagued the region for generations. Programming will focus on enhancing educational opportunities for more than 7,500 area students, as well as further access to fresh foods.
“While implementing an evolution on this scale will be a complex process, there is no better time than right now,” Dawson added. “We know this is the right thing to do for our brand and business to ensure we create the truly inclusive future that everyone deserves.”
The new Ben’s Original packaging will hit store shelves next year.