At PACO we like to say that diversity is in our DNA; being inclusive is literally the reason we exist. So it’s been both inspiring and gut-wrenching to see our Black brothers and sisters demand to be fully recognized as part of a society that has at various times brutally, casually, and unconsciously refused to accept them as equals. And it’s been thrilling to see responses that make this time seem different – that this time, finally, America is genuinely listening to them.
not to say all is right with the world; there’s still plenty of resistance,
opportunism, and simple tone-deafness (dear Adweek: you may not want to paywall
a piece headlined “600
Black Advertising Professionals Demand Meaningful Action from Leadership”…just
sayin’). But a lot of brands and other organizations are going beyond lip
service and taking meaningful action. Here are a couple that stand out.
should surprise nobody to see Ben & Jerry’s taking a strong stand in
support of Black Lives Matter – police organizations boycotted the ice cream
maker back in 2016 for their outspoken support of the movement. They renewed
their commitment on June 3rd by publishing “We
Must Dismantle White Supremacy: Silence Is Not an Option”
on their website. And while many brands would have stopped there (and probably
used less uncompromising language) they continued with four specific points in
support of their stance. It’s easy to make bland statements of support.
Specifics tell your customers that you’re not afraid to hold people accountable
– and to be held accountable yourself.
Ben & Jerry’s statement is expected, Bain Capital’s new seven
point commitment to support racial and social equality
might not be. After all, private equity firms aren’t known as bastions of
progressivism. Still, their list includes not only concrete efforts to embed
equality in corporate culture by adding racial and social equity as the fourth
pillar of their social impact practice and making Juneteenth a mandatory day of
learning and reflection, but also pledges substantial resources in the form of
$100 million to pro-bono support over the next five years. Making specific
pledges shows they’re willing to be held accountable. That’s a welcome sign of
brand worth recognizing is Band-Aid, for starting bandage
lines in black and brown skin tones. Yes, it took 99
years for them to do it. But you know what’s worse than being late? Never showing
up. Shifting American society from a default of whiteness requires all kinds of
changes. Simply acknowledging that there is a vast array of flesh tones will
let’s take a look at Disney. The parent company pledged millions in support of
the NAACP and other nonprofits dedicated to racial equity, and Lucasfilm was
unequivocal in its support of John Boyega’s passionate speeches on the topic.
Disney had also been advertising on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, but rather
than undermine their position and discredit their brand, the House of Mouse
instructed their media buyers to pull the ads as his opposition to the movement
is obviously far from an exhaustive list of brands showing meaningful support,
but the examples demonstrate some common themes. What lessons can marketers
take from them?
stop with slogans – if you’re calling for action, be specific about what steps
are needed to make it happen.
beyond words – if you believe in a cause, put some resources behind it.
an eye on the simple things too – while thundering proclamations and huge
checks get noticed, small gestures can be just as powerful.
by the statements and commitments you make – your customers will notice
hypocrisy and while they may not remember the exact details, they’ll remember
how they felt about it.
Being an ally in
difficult times is a hard thing that can put your brand in uncomfortable
positions. But it matters. And it’s worth doing right. By making ourselves
accountable to concrete and meaningful commitments, we help make our society a
better and more inclusive place.