Some religious consumers are mad as hell at a private, Toronto-based soft-serve ice cream chain known as Sweet Jesus, whose campaign to expand in the US market and globally is now in meltdown mode amid calls for a boycott.
The company’s marketing and branding includes an inverted cross, instead of the “t” in Sweet, and the “s” replaced with the symbol of a lightning bolt, which some observers say is the “satanic ‘S’ ” used by Hitler’s henchmen. A company advertisement of a nativity scene replaces the baby Jesus with an ice cream cone. The company has also promoted bottled “holy” water, and made fun of a rosary.
The holy war has company execs defending their marketing tactics, denying they mock Christians and their faith.
“Unfortunately, they just don’t understand the brand,” Jeff Young, chief development officer of Sweet Jesus parent Monarch & Misfits, told The Post.
But US critics from New York to San Francisco disagree, as online petitions and protests have multiplied, soliciting thousands of signatures. Sweet Jesus is also fending off furious phone calls as it publicly insists it won’t back down.
The conservative Web site CitizenGo collected more than 10,000 signatures by early last week on a petition calling for the Sweet Jesus owners to “issue a public apology for misusing the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ” and “change the name and branding of your franchise.”
Sweet Jesus, founded in 2015, has 19 locations in Canada, an outlet in Baltimore and plans to open at Minnesota’s Mall of America this summer. But analysts say Sweet Jesus may have to tamp down its tactics as it takes on a market dominated by household brands like Baskin-Robbins, Dairy Queen and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.
“It sounds like they are receiving blowback in the United States that they did not get in Canada,” said Josh Merin, vice president of international affairs at the International Franchise Association in Washington, DC. “The company is left with some choices — whether to adjust so it does not offend people or . . . decide this is their brand and [push] forward with it.”
SOURCE: John Aidan Byrne
New York Post