Gone are the days when brands, organisations and professionals remain silent about racism. Nowadays, eyebrows are raised when a brand doesn’t say anything about social injustice issues.
The fight against racism has always come and gone, but this time, it feels different as brands are taking concrete steps to change the culture and ask difficult questions of themselves.
Below is a stream of responses to the Black Lives Matter movement from a variety of brands.
Nike didn’t need to reinvent the wheel – instead, they got smart with its existing tagline by urging people to “just don’t do it.”
Uber got straight to the point with the below statement (instruction) on its website with the following statement: “As a company that powers movement, our goal is to ensure that everyone can move freely and safely. To do that, we must fight racism and be a champion for equity—both inside and outside our company.”
Disney’s new streaming service has added a disclaimer to Dumbo, Peter Pan and other classics because they depict racist stereotypes. The disclaimer reads, “This program is presented as originally created. It may contain outdated cultural depictions.”
For example, its 1941 hit Dumbo, contains a group of crows mocking stereotypes of African Americans (with one named after Jim Crow, the nickname for the system of laws enforcing segregation in the south after the civil war).
Coca-Cola released a statement on its website and paused its social media advertising so that it could assess whether the content it was putting out was inclusive and appropriate.
Deliveroo took an empathetic approach to spark an emotional reaction – its statement urged people to imagine what it is like to face racism and discrimination.
Pop Tarts used a first-person tone of voice highlighting how their brand (The Kellogg Company) is committed to fighting racism.
Reebok went the extra step and detailed what exactly it would be doing to create a more progressive environment.
Dove’s statement gave them the opportunity to showcase their The CROWN Act: Working to eradicate race-based discrimination where they state: “We want all of our beauty to be welcome in all places and institutions. Narrow beauty standards make it difficult for women to freely celebrate their own beauty. While all women experience pressure to conform to certain standards of appearance, Black women are disproportionately impacted by the Eurocentric standards that so often define what is beautiful. Society’s bias has enabled discrimination against Black women’s hair, including being judged differently based on hair texture and hairstyle.”
Starbucks did a u-turn – the brand said that employees would now be allowed to wear clothing and accessories in support of Black Lives Matter, responding to a backlash and boycott calls after the coffee chain banned staff from wearing their own T-shirts and pins supporting the movement.
Ben & Jerry’s:
“There are moments in the course of history when it’s important to stand up and be counted,” says Ben & Jerry’s global head of activism Christopher Miller. Not just an ice-cream brand – this guy works to showcase progressive values into an activist campaign that demonstrate Ben & Jerry’s commitment to social good.
Like all the other brands, Lego released a statement on social media. The brand also pulled advertising for police-related toys in support of the movement.
This led to confusion:
So Lego cleared it up:
“We requested that our affiliate partners refrain from posting promotional LEGO content as part of our decision to respect #BlackOutTuesday and pause posting content on our social media channels in response to the tragic events in the US. We regret any misunderstanding and will ensure that we are clearer about our intentions in the future.”
Although this brand supported the movement online, it still received a backlash. Why? Three years ago, the brand allegedly dropped Munroe Bergdorf, a trans Black woman, for speaking out on the very same issues they are now ‘speaking out’ on too.
Netflix promoted a new “Black Lives Matter” collection to subscribers, featuring over 45 titles about racial injustice and the experience of Black Americans.
PG Tips and Yorkshire Tea (below) joined forces in replying to a tweet from a far-right activist, Laura Towler, expressing satisfaction that the brand had not come out in support of the movement. The two brands won the seal of approval from some social media users, with one tweeting: “Tea unity makes me emotional. Love it and its pure Britishness”.
Like many other online retailers, Etsy struck deals with black-owned businesses to stock more of their products. The brand is also part of Black Pound Day, which encourages shoppers to choose Black-owned businesses once a month when shopping locally or online.
As well as posting on social media, H&M also expanded on its website with its ‘There’s no room for silence’ statement: “We stand with and support the Black Community – today, everyday and everywhere to end racism in all forms. “
Toms is no stranger to the greater good – the brand is built on donating a pair of shoes to those in need for every pair purchased. They’ve stepped up again: “We’re also in the process of talking to our Black-led giving partners to make an additional $100,000 donation to some of the work they’re doing. They’re working on the frontlines of racial inequality every single day. We’ve met many of them through our gun violence work that we started back in 2018.” Amy Smith, the company’s chief giving officer, said on a Glossy Podcast.
Levi Strauss & Co. has promised more diversity at corporate levels. Only 5% of Levi Strauss & Co. corporate staff is black, and only 2% of its executive level is black. There are no black employees on the global leadership team and no Black board members.
What I like about this example is that instead of hiding away, they take full accountability – making the brand seem more human.
“The numbers reveal dire underrepresentation that requires immediate action and a sustained effort to correct,” the brand writes in a blog post. “For generations, our corporate culture has accommodated institutional inequality. We’ve tried to address it, but quite frankly we haven’t tried hard enough..”
The below beauty brands highlight how beauty is more than dramatic Instagram makeovers and DIY hair cutting tutorials – it is a conversation starter and the has the power to incite change. Lots of other beauty brands have taken this approach – redefining beauty to fit into a topical and relatable theme.
The brand said on its website:
“The current events have challenged us as a company to do better. While we have made strides in terms of our diversity and inclusion efforts, we fully acknowledge and recognize that we are not perfect and know there are areas where we MUST improve. And, that is why we are taking this time to talk with and listen to our employees and our customers – to reflect, to learn, to grow.“
This brand put their money where their mouth is and offered grants to black-owned beauty businesses.
There’s LOTS more too – these are just some of the brands that stood out to me.