The inhumanity of white supremacy is evidenced in the death of US citizens George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Elijah McClain. The world took it by storm and staged a six-week global protest mobilizing businesses to rethink their community presence. Reputed brands queried if they could alleviate the misery through positive marketing initiatives.
In one such initiative, the marketing bigwigs of consumer corporates leveraged Black Lives Matter to forge a positive social sentiment. More and more brands started to actively contribute to change instead of using it as a marketing ploy. After George Floyd’s unfortunate death, companies big and small pledged to make useful contributions to the black community.
Adidas US pledged to fill in 30 percent of all their positions with black candidates. Apple created an entrepreneurship camp for black software developers and promised to increase their black-owned suppliers. Facebook committed to double its black employees by 2023. PayPal established a $500 million fund to support minority-owned black businesses. Google’s YouTube established a $100 million fund to assist and showcase content produced by black artists and YouTubers. TikTok launched “TikTok for Black Creatives” while PepsiCo has planned to increase its black intake by 30% by 2025.
Heard about Black Twitter? Yes, that’s Twitter’s visibility check for black users. Global Director of Culture and Community at Twitter, God-is Rivera, writes, “My passion and the core focus of my work at Twitter is to make sure the voices of marginalized communities are always heard, that we amplify their perspectives and build a table, mic, and stage for the issues that matter most to them. “Black Twitter, starting 2010s, is Twitter asking businesses to keep the black community at the center of media campaigns for organic success. Hashtags like #SayHerName, #ICantBreathe grieved Sandra Bland and Eric Garner; promoted Black Lives Matter.
The documentary Kony 2012, a 30-minute YouTube film about the kidnappings of Ugandan kids by a guerilla organization and efforts to find them, became one of the first popular Black Twitter moments. The film gained over 120 million views and redefined the term “virality,” with donations. Additionally, Twitter changed its official display image in 2020 to protests against racism and police brutality. The social media giant was a major supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Social justice calls pushed firms to rethink their diversity matters for a pleasant customer experience. Big4 and Big Tech are working on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Most importantly, the advertising industry has taken into consideration ways ads can influence society. For example, we laugh at commercials from the 1950s that reflect negative gender stereotypes, such as women stuck at home doing the laundry or not driving properly, just as we do now. There is an urgent need for change within advertising agencies.
In addition to the systemic hate culture of the general populace of white supremacy over Black Americans, American media is equally culpable. For instance, American Associated Press (AP) in January 2020, intentionally edited out the photograph of Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan climate activist. This is a classic case of racial bias perpetrated on black people by the American media, and media marketing communications experts should heed it a warning.
When the “Black Lives Matter” movement broke out, Nike came up with the “Don’t Do It” campaign. Their creative ad stood as a good example of a company bringing racism to the public’s attention. However, it seemed like a shallow attempt. The sportswear company has relentlessly supported black athletes, but there is a lack of black representation in their top-tier positions.
While some enterprises considered Black Lives Matter as a currency for social change for good, some just put on a show to profit. Unfortunately, large organizations recognize the need for change in the hierarchy only after major incidents or global protests. In conclusion, Black Lives Matter is not a currency to whitewash internal discontent against blacks or minorities. Companies must also check to see any gender or racial disparities within the institution.
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