How brands and agencies responded to racial injustice in the first month following George Floyd's death
For the current live blog, covering July 1, 2020 to the present day, see “A regularly updated blog tracking brands' responses to racial injustice”
The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests, rioting and civil unrest. Floyd, a Black man, died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes.
Brands, which often remain silent when it comes to social justice issues, began speaking out, along with ad agencies and media professionals. Nike was quick to release a 60-second spot from Wieden+Kennedy Portland, encouraging Americans to not turn their backs on racism, with a twist on its long-used tagline: “For Once, Don’t Do It.” Other brands, including YouTube, the NFL, Disney, Amazon and Netflix, followed suit.
Below is an archived daily blog of responses from brands, media companies and agencies as they took a stand against racism and social injustice, covering the period to June 30, 2020.
June 30, 2020
5:00 PM EDT
Agencies join the Facebook boycott
The number of brands joining in on the #StopHateForProfit boycott continues to rise, and now a few agencies have announced they too will be going dark on Facebook and Instagram for the month of July.
David&Goliath wrote in an Instagram post on Tuesday, “Profiting from hate speech, racism, and misleading information is wrong. That’s why we’re going dark on Facebook and Instagram for the month of July in solidarity with the #StopHateForProfit boycott. We encourage our clients and our team members to join us in taking a stand. You can demand change by signing the petition linked in our bio.”
Last week, Goodby Silverstein & Partners issued a similar statement in a Twitter post, saying “We are taking this action to protest the platform’s irresponsible propagation of hate speech, racism, and misleading voter information. We encourage clients and our own people to join us.”
David&Goliath and Goodby Silverstein & Partners are both creative agencies so they don’t handle the media buys for their clients. A Goodby Silverstein & Partners spokesperson further clarified to Ad Age that the agency’s position “is only about GS&P as an agency.” When asked if the agency was giving any guidance at all on the boycott to clients—which include BMW, Pepsi, PayPal and Adobe—the spokesperson declined comment. David&Goliath works with clients like Jack in the Box, Kia and Universal Studios. It is also unclear if the agency has been providing guidance to clients.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Dentsu Aegis Network’s media agency 360i encouraged clients in an email obtained by the publication to support the July boycott. A 360i spokesperson declined comment but people close to the matter say one of the agency’s clients leaked the email to the Wall Street Journal, and the shop had no plans of otherwise making its positioning on the boycott public.
Most agencies say they are giving guidance to clients on the boycott but declined to go into detail, explaining that they are handling the situation on a case-by-case basis. One person close to the matter at IPG media agency Mediahub says the agency is “working with clients on an individual basis. In general, our view is that a brand’s stance on this issue should be guided by, and be consistent with, their overall brand values,” the person says.
4:30 PM EDT
Brands put $1.6 million into racial justice TV ads
Brands have spent a total of $1.6 million on racial justice TV advertising in recent weeks, according to data and tech firm Numerator.
In all, 21 brands ran racial justice ads during the 30 days ended June 23, according to Numerator, a threefold increase from the number of brands that did so throughout all of 2018 and 2019 combined. Those 30 days saw 1,286 occurrences of such ads, more than double the 500 for those two years.
Google’s YouTube was the biggest overall spender, putting $395,000 behind its racial-justice ads. Procter & Gamble Co. came in second with nearly $375,000 behind its corporate-branded ads. Then NASCAR with $312,000 in spending behind a racial justice ad that ran 46 times during the day of its Dixie Vodka 400 race. Unilever put $219,000 behind TV ads for its Dove and SheaMoisture brands.
Numerator is launching a new “Social Equality and Awareness Flag” to track socially responsible ad messages as they happen, including gender equality, racial equality, socio-economic equality and financial equality topics under that heading
9:30 AM EDT
Netflix shifts $100 million to Black-owned banks
Netflix is shifting up to $100 million to lenders that serve the Black community in an effort to support minority lenders, Bloomberg reports. Initially, Netflix will move $25 million into the Black Economic Development initiative, a new fund that will invest in Black-owned financial institutions serving low-income communities. Another $10 million will go to the Hope Credit Union. It also pledged to allot 2 percent of its cash on hand to financial organizations that support the Black community.
9:30 AM EDT
iHeartMedia debuts Black Information Network
iHeartMedia launched a new 24-7 national news services dedicated to providing national news with a Black voice and perspective. Led by Tony Coles, who will serve as president, BIN is an independent business unit financed by iHeartMedia. Founding partners include Bank of America, CVS Health, Geico, Lowe’s, McDonald’s USA, Sony, 23andMe and Verizon. These brands will assist in the financing of BIN and “give it the support it needs without the daily pressure of ratings.” BIN is distributed through the iHeartRadio app and across broadcast radio stations in markets including Atlanta, Dallas, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Seattle, among others. It will also serve as the news service for iHeartMedia’s hip hop, R&B and gospel stations.
June 29, 2020
7:00 AM EDT
Restaurant Brands admits ‘insufficient racial diversity,’ sets hiring goal
Restaurant Brands International is committing to having at least half of all final-round candidates for jobs at its four corporate offices “be from groups that are demonstrably diverse, including race,” CEO Jose Cil said in a letter. Cil admits in the letter that the company, which owns Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons, has “insufficient racial diversity” and says the company is going to change that.
June 28, 2020
8:03 PM EDT
Sprite says the American Dream 'forgot' Black America in new ad
In an ad debuting during Sunday’s BET Awards, Sprite makes a blunt assessment of the American Dream: “It wasn’t made for everybody. It forgot about one very important detail: Black America.”
The spot, from Wieden+Kennedy New York, mingles footage from Black Lives Matter marches with shots of Atlanta, the hometown of Sprite owner Coca-Cola Co. Sprite released the ad after recently committing $500,000 to the Black Lives Matter Global Network.
Read more here.
7:52 PM EDT
Doritos is giving ad space to Black artists in partnership with Black Lives Matter
Doritos is giving Black artists major outdoor ad space to promote their messages as part of a new investment that includes a $150,000 donation to Black Lives Matter.
Doritos says its investment in the #AmplifyBlackVoices effort includes giving Black artists the chance to take over $650,000 worth of its outdoor advertising inventory.
The Frito-Lay chip brand is also aired a 30-second spot, “Do You Hear Us Now?” during Sunday night’s BET Awards. The spot was created by BET and features Black artists and footage from Black Lives Matter marches.
Read more here.
3:00 PM EDT
McDonald’s gave most of its BET Awards media buy to Black activists and business owners
McDonald’s devoted most of its media buy for Sunday night’s BET Awards to amplify the voices of Black activists, giving 13 people air time to tell their stories. It is the first time it has donated its air space in such a manner. Spots feature Ibram X. Kendi, Imani Ellis, Bubba Wallace, and others.
McDonald’s is also airing its own spot, “Dreams,” which comes from Burrell Communications Group. That spot features an arrangement of the Nina Simone song "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" and notes that McDonald’s supports the Boys & Girls Club of America.
Read more here.
June 26, 2020
6:44 PM EDT
Coke pauses all social spend for at least 30 days, including on YouTube, to fight racism
Coca-Cola Co. will pause spending on all social media platforms, including Google-owned YouTube, for at least 30 days. The decision—which the beverage giant says is aimed at fighting racism—takes a broader approach than most brands, which have mostly directed their ad freezes at Facebook and Instagram.
“There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media. The Coca-Cola Company will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days,” CEO and Chairman James Quincey said in a statement. “We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners.”
Read more here.
5:46 PM EDT
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg details new tools that fight hate, but NAACP says it's not enough to end boycott
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a message on Friday outlining plans to tackle disinformation and label harmful content—the kind that has gone unchecked in the past, like posts from President Donald Trump. However, the policy update was immediately slapped down by organizers of an advertising freeze against the company. They said the social network did not meet their demands, which means a brand boycott is still in the works for July.
In his post, Zuckerberg reaffirmed many of the positions the company has taken in the past that suggest it will continue to err on the side of allowing the widest possible expression views on the service.
The social network has been under intense pressure from activists and civil rights groups that have mounted a boycott campaign because of concerns over the spread of disinformation and hate speech. Zuckerberg addressed some of the problems, but the NAACP, which is helping organize the pressure campaign, said he did not go far enough, in a statement sent to Ad Age.
"Facebook is supporting hate, not 'free speech'" Derrick Johnson, NAACP president, said in the statement. "I am incredibly concerned with Zuckerberg's response today. Facebook's inactions are costing us lives."
The "Stop the Hate for Profit" movement has attracted support from brands like Honda, Unilever, Verizon and The North Face. Verizon declined comment on Zuckerberg's announcement, while several other brands that have paused their spend in July did not immediately provide comment.
Read more here.
June 25, 2020
7:01 PM EDT
Twitter turned Black Lives Matter Tweets into billboards around the country
Since Juneteenth, you may have encountered Black Lives Matter tweets way beyond your Twitter feed. The social media platform has been giving some of its BLM messages more prominence in major cities around the world by featuring them in billboards and massive outdoor displays.
Real Tweets from Black users around the world have been magnified on out-of-home signs in U.S. cities where major protests have occurred: Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Louisville, Minneapolis, New York, Oakland and Philadelphia.
The include messages from writer Ashley Simpo, Bernice King, CEO of The King Center and daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, writer and marketer Frederick T. Joseph and many more.
Read more here.
5:31 PM EDT
Disney remakes Splash Mountain with ‘Princess and the Frog’ theme
Walt Disney Co. is dropping all references to “Song of the South,” the controversial 1946 film, from its two Splash Mountain rides in California and Florida, reports Bloomberg.
The rides will be rethemed with elements from “The Princess and the Frog,” the 2009 animated musical that was Disney’s first to feature an African-American heroine. The new version will feature the character Princess Tiana, whom the company describes as a “modern, courageous, and empowered woman,” as she prepares for a Mardi Gras performance in Louisiana.“Song of the South,” which features the Black character Uncle Remus cheerfully singing songs like “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” around a post-Civil War plantation, has been called out for its racial stereotypes. Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger has said the company won’t put the film on its Disney+ streaming service, even with a disclaimer.
Splash Mountain is a classic log-flume ride that takes guests through several forest scenes featuring singing rabbits, bears and birds. The humans from the film aren’t portrayed. The California ride opened in 1989.
There’s a third Splash Mountain, at Tokyo Disneyland. The company didn’t announce plans to change that, although Oriental Land Co., the owner of that park, is reviewing options, a Disney spokesperson said.Online petitions had been circulating both for and against rebranding the U.S. rides. One started on June 9 on Change.org and calling for a new theme has more than 21,000 signatures, but one started three days later aiming to retain the “Song of the South” elements has more than 31,000.
Disney said it began work on the new theme last year.
5:04 PM EDT
Brands support the Black community with their Pride campaigns
This year, Pride campaigns have evolved. The coronavirus pandemic has forced Pride parades and brand across the U.S. to go virtual, giving brands the potential of global reach. And with the death of George Floyd inspiring millions to take action against systemic racism, many brands have revamped their virtual Pride plans to support the Black LGBTQ+ community.
In the U.S., Pride has close ties to racial injustice. Black LGBTQ+ individuals were a large part of New York City’s Stonewall Inn protests of 1969, the start of Pride. Many believe that the uprising was initiated when police tried to shove Black lesbian Stormé Delarverie into a police car.
Brands like Netflix, Microsoft, SKYY Vodka and others are drumming up support and donations for Black rights organizations as part of their Pride campaigns.
Read more here.
1:52 PM EDT
Dixie Chicks changes its name and releases a song about Black Lives Matter
Country group The Dixie Chicks is now going by the name The Chicks. Dropping the word “dixie” — which describes Southern U.S. states, especially those that formed the Confederacy — isn’t the group’s only new way of recognizing the push for social justice. The Chicks released a video for a new song, “March March,” that includes footage such as Black Lives Matter protests, gay pride marches, gun control activists including Emma Gonzalez, youth climate activists including Greta Thunberg, and many others, and the names of Black people who have been killed such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Emmett Till. The video ends with a scrolling list of 16 organizations including Headcount and Black Lives Matter.
The Dixie Chicks’ rebranding follows that of country group Lady Antebellum, which shortened its name to Lady A earlier this month.
1:42 PM EDT
YouTube starts off Brandcast with message of support for Black Lives Matter
YouTube sent advertisers a personalized presentation of its online-only Brandcast on Thursday, and it opened the show with a message from CEO Susan Wojcicki in support of Black Lives Matter before launching its pitch to advertisers about the future of the service.
“At YouTube, we believe Black Lives Matter,” Wojcicki said in the video. “We have always been a platform that celebrates a diverse set of voices, but we've recognized we need to do more in particular with the Black community.”
Platforms like YouTube have had to address criticisms about how they elevate hateful content and how the companies handle racial justice issues internally. Just this week, Google workers petitioned the company to stop contracting with law enforcement organizations.
YouTube used Brandcast as a moment to reflect on part of its corporate responsibility to elevate more Black voices. YouTube executives re-stated how YouTube will spend $100 million to support Black creators.
Read more here.
June 24, 2020
2:55 PM EDT
Microsoft commits more than $750 million to diversifying its workforce, suppliers and partners
On Tuesday night, Microsoft shared steps it plans on taking to increase the diversity of its employees via social media and a blog post published to its website.
In an email previously shared with employees, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated the company plans on investing $150 million in diversity and inclusion, and will double the number of Black individuals in managerial roles by 2025, among other initiatives.
Currently, Microsoft, outside of other companies it owns, has an employee base made up of only 4.5 percent Black employees, with only 2.7 percent holding executive titles, 2.5 percent at the director level and 2.7 percent at the manager level. The majority of Microsoft employees (53.2 percent) are white, according to Microsoft’s 2019 diversity and inclusion report included in the blog post.
With its employee investment, Microsoft will require training beginning in 2021 on “allyship, covering and privilege in the workplace,” with new content to “understand the experience of the Black and African American community.” Microsoft will also expand on talent development programs and evaluate managers’ progress in diversity and inclusion.
Microsoft also pledges to double the number of Black-owned suppliers it uses over the next three years and plans to spend $500 million on new suppliers. It also plans on doubling the percentage of transaction volumes with Black-owned banks, and create a $100 million program in collaboration with the FDIC to target Minority Owned Depository Institutions.
In addition, Microsoft plans on growing the number of Black-owned businesses it partners with by 20 percent over the next three years, and will provide $73 million to fund new and existing partners for their needs.
In communities, Microsoft will expand on its justice reform efforts, and focus on growing digital skills in Black and people-of-color communities by giving $5 million in grants to nonprofits and will establish a $50 million investment fund supporting Black-owned small businesses.
“Change begins by looking inward. We expect this change in ourselves. Employees expect this change from their leaders. Our customers and partners expect this change from Microsoft. And the world demands this change,” wrote Nadella in the blog.
2:32 PM EDT
Netflix honors lost lives of Black trans women ahead of virtual Pride event
Many brands are highlighting Black voices during Pride month and Netflix is one of them. On Tuesday night, Netflix tweeted a list of the Black trans women who have been killed in the U.S. since 2019. The tweet has already been retweeted more than 900 times and has received more than 3,000 likes. The streaming platform followed up the tweet by highlighting five trans-led organizations with the note: “As you reflect, let’s also Do.”
To celebrate Pride month, Netflix is also hosting a “Netflix Pride” virtual event presented by The Most, the platform’s dedicated social channels which promote content for the LGBTQ+ community. The event will be streamed on Netflix’s YouTube, The Most’s IGTV and TikTok on June 30 at 4 p.m. Pacific, and will feature famous Black LGBTQ+ champions like actress and activist Laverne Cox (star of Netflix’s new “Disclosure” documentary about the history of trans images in film and TV), actor Tituss Burgess and singer Chaka Khan.
During the event, Netflix will raise awareness for the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, an organization that defends the rights of Black transgender people, named after Black drag queen Marsha P. Johnson, a prominent figure in the Stonewall uprising, as well as LGBTQ+ organizations Outright Action International and the Trans Justice Funding Project.
2:30 PM EDT
Rosapark founders say they are reconsidering the Paris agency's name in light of recent backlash
The three founders of the Havas-owned French agency Rosapark—Gilles Fichteberg, Jean-François Sacco and Jean-Patrick Chiquiar, who are all white men—say they are reconsidering their agency's name.
The decision comes after Nathan Young, president of nonprofit 600 & Rising and group strategy director at Minneapolis agency Periscope, called the agency out on Twitter for using the name of the iconic Civil Rights activist, Rosa Parks, who famously refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama to a white man. Young wrote, “Advertising's race problem in one image.”
“We are aware of the various comments on social media related to the name Rosapark and we would like to assure you we are taking them very seriously,” Fichteberg, Sacco and Chiquiar said in a collective statement to Ad Age. “We are sincerely sorry if the name of our agency, which we chose eight years ago, has caused any offense. In the current climate and in light of recent world events, we fully understand why.”
Read more here.
2:27 PM EDT
In his Lions Live keynote, P&G CMO Marc Pritchard calls for better progress on diversity
In a wide-ranging talk at the Cannes Lions Live virtual event on Wednesday, Procter & Gamble’s Chief Marketing Officer Marc Pritchard set goals for growing diversity within P&G, its agencies, media and production crews.
Pritchard said P&G has set a goal of 40 percent multicultural representation within the company and is pushing for similar moves by agency teams and production crews, where he said, “we’re way short” but making progress.
He also noted P&G is restructuring buying systems to increase investment in Black-owned or operated media, agencies and other marketing suppliers. And he said P&G has launched a comprehensive review of all brand marketing to ensure it “accurately and respectfully portrays Black people—and all people,” using the Association of National Advertisers’ Cultural Impact Insights Measure to “hold ourselves accountable.”
Read more here.
1:00 PM EDT
Vice calls on brands to rethink keyword blocklists associated with racism
Vice is calling on marketers and agencies to once again reassess keyword blocklists as new words have been added to advertisers’ do-not-buy lists amid the protests against racial injustice.
During its NewFront presentation on Wednesday, the company said brand marketers need to call upon their agencies to review and question the words that make up their blocklists. Over the past few weeks, the company notes that those words now include “George Floyd,” “protest,” and “Minneapolis.” And one agency that represents a large entertainment company sent a blocklist that even included "Black Lives Matter" and "Black people" the same week the corporation put out a statement of support for Black Lives Matter, said Marsha Cooke, senior VP, content and community strategy, Vice.
Read more here.
12:45 PM EDT
Hennessy’s ‘Unfinished Business’ fund backs business owners of color
Hennessy today released a video promoting its “Unfinished Business” program that pledges $3 million in support for businesses owned by Black, Latinx and Asian American people who have beenhard hit by the pandemic. The video, from Droga5 and New York City-based filmmaker Haley Anderson, spotlights seven small-business owners talking about their challenges.
Read more here.
6:13 AM EDT
Walmart to stop displaying the Confederate-themed Mississippi flag
Walmart said it will stop displaying the Confederate-themed Mississippi flag while the state debates whether to change the design, reports Time. “We believe it’s the right thing to do, and is consistent with Walmart’s position to not sell merchandise with the Confederate flag from stores and online sites, as part of our commitment to provide a welcoming and inclusive experience for all of our customers in the communities we serve,” a company spokesperson said.
June 23, 2020
2:57 PM EDT
Outfront launches nationwide ‘Black Heart’ campaign
Out-of-home media company Outfront has a new nationwide campaign that stands as a statement of solidarity with the Black community.
The campaign was created by the company’s in-house creative team Outfront Studios. Tim Wasicki, northeast creative director at Outfront Studios, came up with the initial image: A singular black heart, highlighted in gray, set against a black background. Wasicki was inspired by the #BlackoutTuesday movement on social media where people posted black squares.
“I felt there was something more that I needed to convey and create, especially as a man of color,” says Wasicki in a statement. Wasicki brought together 15 Outfront Studios colleagues from across the country to create different designs based off the initial heart. “I wanted to know what this difficult moment in time meant to others,” he says.
The final designs show a series of muted gray hearts on black backgrounds. Each convey additional feelings of support towards the Black Lives Matter movement. “The color shifted from black on black, to a muted grey, representing our continued solidarity, but also representing the growth within our perception of ‘color,’” says Wasicki. One heart reads “unity,” another reads “truth.” “Each is powerful in its own right, but the series captures the sentiment of furthering the conversation,” he says. The additional designs were also created by Nicole Mapp, Kenneth Chen, Frankie Ferguson, Drew Bolen, Kat Salimi, Rene Delgado, Sarah Barcelos, Ian Mattingly, Eddy Herty, Sandra Zivadinovic, Nia Bailey and Alexis Caban.
The designs are running on digital out-of-home billboards and signs across the country.
Outfront is also providing assets reading “Black businesses matter” to African American-run small businesses for billboards in strategic locations.
2:57 PM EDT
Snapchat promotes diversity in shows and news at its first NewFront
Snapchat emphasized its young, progressive audience as a point of pride in its inaugural online NewFront presentation on Tuesday. The messaging app showed off a roster of shows and news coverage that it believes speak to the social awakening that is happening across the country.
Kenny Mitchell, Snapchat’s chief marketing officer, pointed to Snapchat Shows like “While Black,” which was produced last year but was recently re-released on the service. It is a 10-part documentary series, which is still timely, dealing with issues like policing in Black communities. Black creators were featured prominently, including stars like Will Smith, who also has a Snapchat Show.
Snapchat talked about its generation of 13- to 24-year-olds as agents of change, looking for action. “We’ll do everything we can to ensure this generation is informed and their voices get heard,” Mitchell said.
Read more here.
1:02 PM EDT
Condé Nast commits to diversity in NewFronts pitch
Condé Nast, under fire in recent weeks for fostering an internal culture of racism, has committed to providing a platform for new voices, diverse content and inclusive programming that is more representative of multicultural audiences and communities.
Condé Nast CEO Roger Lynch addressed the NewFronts audience live on Tuesday to discuss the backlash the company has received and how it is prioritizing diversity and inclusion. "It shouldn't take the horrendous murder of George Floyd for us to wake up as a society," he said.
Lynch says 30 percent of Condé Nast's workforce include people of color and the company is assembling a new external anti-racism advisory council to work alongside its editorial team.
Earlier this month, Matt Duckor, who had served as head of lifestyle video programming, left the company after staffers claimed Condé Nast did not feature people of color in videos or did not pay them for appearances. Drucker’s old tweets, which contained racist and homophobic content, were resurfaced. Bon Appetit’s Adam Rapoport also left the company following allegations of racial discrimination.
Read more here.
June 22, 2020
6:41 PM EDT
Research firm rates McDonald’s BLM ad ‘edgy,’ puts P&G in ‘danger zone’
Black Lives Matter ads are widely seen both as exploitative and empowering, but among recent efforts, McDonald’s “One of Us” gets high scores from people on both fronts, while Procter & Gamble Co.’s “The Choice” is seen as exploitative without being very empowering, according to Ace Metrix.
The McDonald’s ad from Wieden & Kennedy, New York, fell into what the research firm classifies as “Edgy” territory – roughly equal parts empowering and exploitative. P&G’s from WPP’s Grey and Saturday Morning co-founder Keith Cartwright’s new agency Cartwright, scored the lowest of eight BLM ads tested on being empowering, but just about as exploitative.
McDonald’s listed names of recent Black victims of police violence (including George Floyd), said how the company was affected by recent events, and pledged donations to related causes. P&G’s ad called out white viewers, saying it’s not enough to not be racist, but that they also need to take positive action including donating, protesting and voting.
People saw both as exploitative in using recent controversy and unrest as a starting point for brand messages, according to Ace Metrix. But P&G’s was among two that the firm says land in the “Danger Zone” where the messaging’s “exploitative” risk outweighs the reward.
Verbatim responses gave McDonald’s high marks for taking a stand, even among one respondent who doesn’t like the brand much. Verbatims even from some BLM supporters saw P&G’s ad as divisive, with others reacting negatively to P&G trying to force people to take political stands and saying nothing about what the company itself is doing.
5:41 PM EDT
Nestlé pulls Beso de Negra candy as it reviews portfolio for racism
Nestlé SA will stop selling products under the Beso de Negra brand as the world’s largest food company goes through its 25,000 products to eliminate marketing that contains racial stereotypes.
Nestlé is reviewing all the products made by its more than 2,000 brands and will rename and redesign that one, a spokeswoman told Bloomberg in a response to emailed questions. Colombian confectionery brand name Beso de Negra translates as kiss from a Black woman.
Read more here.
5:15 PM EDT
NASCAR says ‘We are one family’ after drivers push Bubba Wallace’s racecar to front of the field
Today’s race at Talladega Superspeedway saw drivers support NASCAR’s only Black full-time driver, Bubba Wallace, by pushing his racecar (No.43) to the front of the field. The act of solidary occurred one day after a noose was found in Wallace’s garage stall.
NASCAR has been sharing the support around Wallace during the race. NASCAR posted a video showing the drivers pushing his car to the front of the lineup and Wallace’s tears that followed with the message: “We are one family. One NASCAR.” Another NASCAR tweet showed the line of drivers and crew members and simply read “Together” with the hashtag #IStandWithBubba. NASCAR also shared an image of “#IStandWithBubba” painted on the grass by workers before the race began as well as a video of Wallace’s team giving him a prep talk by saying: “Let’s go shut these haters up.”
3:31 PM EDT
Equal Justice Initiative's haunting film looks back at the history of lynchings and massacres endured by Black people in the U.S.
A new film for the Equal Justice Initiative reflects on the massacres Black people have faced since the Reconstruction era following the Civil War.
Hauntingly beautiful illustrations guide viewers through history, showing how President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 did nothing to stop the hate and brutality Black Americans have had to face and continue to face.
The film promotes EJI’s new report, Reconstruction in America, which examines the 12 years following the Civil War and documents 2,000 more lynchings of Black people in America than were previously recorded. The report says that the new numbers bring the count to 6,500 lynchings, with thousands more that may never be known.
Read more here.
6:11 AM EDT
Fortnite removes police cars
Fortnite has removed police cars from its game, reports the Wall Street Journal, apparently following the death of George Floyd. Fortnite owner Epic Games hasn’t yet commented on the move, but “their sudden omission has drawn attention on social media, where people have debated whether it was a politically motivated decision,” says the Journal.
6:01 AM EDT
Eskimo Pie drops 'derogatory' name
Dreyer’s Eskimo Pie is the latest brand to announce a name change in the wake of the racial injustice protests and the death of George Floyd. According to the Wall Street Journal, the 100-year-old ice cream brand is rethinking its branding, which includes a logo of a person wearing a fur-trimmed parka, because it realizes the Eskimo name is “derogatory.”
“We are committed to being a part of the solution on racial equality, and recognize the term is derogatory,” Elizabell Marquez, head of marketing for Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, said in a statement.
Eskimo Pie joins the likes of Aunt Jemima’s, Uncle Ben’s and others in changing its branding in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. In Asia, meanwhile, Colgate-Palmolive Co. is “reviewing” its branding of Darlie toothpaste in Asia, 30 years after the company took the half-step of changing the name from “Darkie” but left “Black Person Toothpaste” written in Chinese on packaging.
June 19, 2020
5:08 PM EDT
Gap Inc. adorns brand sites with diversity pledges, and Levi’s reveals diversity makeup for first time
Competitors Gap Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co. are the latest retailers to promise more diversity at corporate levels.
Gap Inc, parent of Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Intermix, Athleta and recently shuttered Hill City, has topped the homepages of its brands’ websites with pledges to double Black and Latinx representation. Meanwhile, Levi Strauss & Co., parent company of Levi’s and Dockers, has published the diversity makeup of its company for the first time in its 167-year history and promises to do better. At the corporate level, both Gap and Levi's have less than 5 percent Black representation.
Read more here.
3:45 PM EDT
Snapchat says sorry for Juneteenth Lens that required a smile to break the chains of slavery
Snapchat apologized on Friday for an ill-considered Juneteenth celebration that was criticized online for setting the wrong tone.
On Friday, Snapchat users were greeted with a new filter in honor of Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the ending of slavery in the U.S. The Snapchat filter encouraged users to break the chains of slavery, but to activate the animation people were prompted to smile.
Augmented reality filters are animated Lenses that interact with people in their selfies. The filters can respond to people's movements, and in this case, when a person smiled, virtual chains would break. The need to smile for the filter irked some users, and Snapchat pulled it after receiving criticism.
Snapchat said the filter did not go through as rigorous of a review process as it should have. Some online commenters wondered if Snapchat had enough Black leaders in the room, who might have flagged the filter earlier. Snapchat said that a diverse group of employees were represented in the creative process.
"We deeply apologize to the members of the Snapchat community who found this Lens offensive," a Snapchat spokesman said in an e-mail statement. "A diverse group of Snap team members were involved in developing the concept, but a version of the Lens that went live for Snapchatters this morning had not been approved through our review process. We are investigating why this mistake occurred so that we can avoid it in the future.
12:53 PM EDT
Goodby Silverstein & Partners created a Juneteenth newspaper ad that doubles as a peaceful protest sign
Nonprofit Courageous Conversation Global Foundation has taken out a full-page ad in the Oklahoma Eagle, one of the oldest Black-owned publications in the U.S.—but it’s not just an ad.
The page, which reads “Being Black is not a crime” in all-white type against a black background, is also meant to serve as a sign for those planning to peacefully protest in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where President Trump is holding a rally, marking his return to the campaign trail after the pandemic had put it on hold. It's the latest in Goodby Silverstein & Partner’s work for CCGF.
Read more here.
6:00 AM EDT
Black professionals describe agencies as hotbeds for racism and microaggression
Ad Age spoke with 26 employees who have worked at various ad agencies over their careers, including GMMB, Publicis Sapient, Havas and McCann—all of whom shared troubling experiences, some anonymously out of fear of endangering their employment. They detail instances of overt racism, microaggression and unconscious bias while at work; experiences that pushed some to take up other career options altogether.
Read more here.
June 18, 2020
5:26 PM EDT
Colgate reviews branding for its 'Black Person Toothpaste' in Asia
Colgate-Palmolive Co. is “reviewing” its branding of Darlie toothpaste in Asia, 30 years after the company took the half-step of changing the name from “Darkie” but left “Black Person Toothpaste” written in Chinese on packaging.
People in the U.S. may know little about it, but Darlie is the leading toothpaste brand in China and much of East Asia.
"Darlie is a Chinese brand owned by Colgate and our Joint Venture Partner, Hawley & Hazel. For more than 35 years, we have been working together to evolve the brand, including substantial changes to the name, logo and packaging," said the company. "We are currently working with our partner to review and further evolve all aspects of the brand, including the brand name."
Read more here.
5:10 PM EDT
A Juneteenth pledge asks agencies to commit to 13 percent Black leadership by 2023
The “IN FOR 13%” initiative launched by Three’s A Crowd, an L.A.-based Black creative collective, is calling on advertising industry leadership to “publicly and actionably” eliminate racist hiring practices. The initiative is meant to be a resource for agencies attempting to see real change in recruitment and professional growth of Black people in the industry.
The initiative’s goal: to ensure that advertising industry leadership proportionately reflects the U.S. Black population as a whole by 2023. “While Black people comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population, data shows that only 8.1 percent of people working in advertising are Black,” the group said in a statement.
The initiative lays out three phases to achieve more equity in advertising. Self Identification and Accountability: Participating agencies will be asked to readily show their leadership teams. Develop Actionable Toolkits: Agencies will be given clear initiatives and customized toolkits to tackle racial biases specific to them. Track Agency Progress: IN FOR 13% will establish a hub to track the performance of participating agencies.
“Let everyone see that the people running advertising agencies do not reflect the world we live in,” says Reonna Johnson, cofounder of Three’s A Crowd. “For true change to occur, advertising agency leadership must be the catalyst.”
4:05 PM EDT
The Martin Agency, Wieden+Kennedy are latest to release diversity makeup
Wieden+Kennedy and The Martin Agency are the latest shops to release the diversity makeup of their employee bases, as part of their participation in the "Commit to Change" campaign that nonprofit 600 & Rising announced today. The Martin Agency, part of Interpublic Group of Cos. (the first holding company to release its diversity makeup), posted a chart on Instagram that shows 9.7 percent of all its employees are Black or African American; 4.4 percent of all employees are Hispanic or Latinx; 4.4 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander; 2.5 percent are of two or more races; and 78.7 percent are white.
Within its executive committee, The Martin Agency reports 11.1 percent are Black or African American; 11.1 percent are Hispanic or Latinx; none are Asian or Pacific Islander; none are of two or more races; and 77.8 percent are white. The agency reports 4.9 percent of its officers are Black or African American; 4.9 percent are Hispanic or Latinx; 1.6 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander; none are of two or more races; and 88.6 percent are white.
Independent agency Wieden+Kennedy, which has offices in Portland and New York, reports that 1 percent of its creatives in Portland are American Indian or Alaskan Native and 1 percent of its creatives in New York are Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.
The agency also reveals that 5 percent of its Portland and New York teams are of two or more races; while 8 percent of its leadership in Portland and 5 percent of its leadership in New York are of two races or more.
Wieden+Kennedy also reports that 8 percent of its Portland office, 9 percent of its New York office, 1 percent of Portland leadership and 2 percent of Portland leadership are Asian. According to the agency, 7 percent of its Portland office, 9 percent of its New York office, 5 percent of Portland leadership and 5 percent of New York leadership are Latinx.
Wieden+Kennedy says 9 percent of its Portland office, 11 percent of its New York office, 2 percent of Portland leadership and 10 percent of New York leadership are Black. The agency reports 69 percent of its Portland office, 58 percent of its New York office, 84 percent of Portland leadership and 75 percent of New York leadership are white.
Wieden+Kennedy and The Martin Agency released their diversity makeups one day after Dentsu Aegis Network revealed its numbers in a leaked letter sent to staff.
According to Dentsu, 1.8 percent of its executives are Black or African American; 7.1 percent are Asian; 83.4 percent are white; 3.6 percent are Hispanic or Latinx; and 4.1 percent are of two or more races.
3:19 PM EDT
Facebook censors Trump ad over 'Nazi-era' imagery just as it announces $200 million to support Black voices
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, announced a series of new programs on Thursday to highlight the Black community, and at the same time the social network took a dramatic step toward accommodating civil rights groups by censoring an ad from President Trump.
The social platform is giving $200 million to support Black businesses and Black creators and plans to launch a media hub called "Lift Black Voices" inside its app. On Thursday, Facebook also removed an ad from Trump's campaign because it featured "Nazi-era" imagery. Trump's ad called on supporters to fight "Antifa," a loosely affiliated protest group with a name that stems from "anti-fascist."
This comes just one day after Facebook heard from civil right groups, including the NAACP and Anti-Defamation League, which advocated for advertisers to join a boycott of the social network. Facebook has been criticized for how it handles offensive rhetoric, especially coming from Trump’s account.
Read more here.
2:02 PM EDT
Wieden+Kennedy, 72andSunny among the 30-plus agencies to join 600 & Rising's 'Commit to Change' campaign
600&Rising, the nonprofit established by hundreds of Black ad execs yesterday, today debuts its first campaign, "Commit to Change," with the backing of more than 30 agencies across the U.S. It’s an effort to normalize transparency on diversity data in the industry in the hopes of making it more diverse and equitable.
Among the “First Day” agencies are Wieden+Kennedy, 72andSunny, BarrettSF, Giant Spoon, Noble People, Preacher, Periscope, O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul, Observatory and Zambezi. All of them have committed to releasing their own diversity data that adheres to a standard established by 600 & Rising, based on recommendations from leading diversity, equity and inclusion experts.
Read more here.
1:20 PM EDT
Unilever faces petitions to end skin-lightening cream brand in India
Unilever, however, sells a brand called Fair & Lovely in India and elsewhere in Asia that makes skin-lightening creams, which spawned social-media backlash and more than two dozen change.org petitions calling on the company either to discontinue the brand or change its name. The most visible of those efforts has amassed more than 10,000 signatures to date. Unilever declined or did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Read more here.
12:53 PM EDT
Johnson & Johnson scraps Neutrogena Fine Fairness amid growing criticism of skin-lightening products
Johnson & Johnson will discontinue the Neutrogena Fine Fairness line in Asia and the Middle East amid growing criticism of skin-lightening products, including rival Unilever’s Fair & Lovely brand.
“Conversations over the past few weeks highlighted that the name of our Neutrogena Fine Fairness line may be perceived in an unintended way as it represents fairness as better than your own unique skin tone,” a J&J spokeswoman said in a statement. “Grounded in the belief that healthy skin is beautiful skin, we made the business decisions to no longer sell the Fine Fairness product line.”
Read more here.
10:35 AM EDT
FX schedules Juneteenth programming across networks
FX Networks is honoring Juneteenth (June 19), the day that marks the end of slavery in the U.S., by airing a special lineup of films and TV shows across FX, FXX and FXM that sheds light on the experience of Black Americans.
Beginning at 7 a.m. Eastern on Friday, 24-hour programming includes award-winning films “Hidden Figures,” “Selma” and “Get Out,” along with marathons of “Black-ish” and “Atlanta.”
10:20 AM EDT
English Premier League prints ‘Black Lives Matter’ on players’ jerseys
English Premier League soccer is showing support for the racial justice movement by replacing player names on the jerseys of all its 20 teams with the words “Black Lives Matter.” The statement will remain on the shirts for the next 12 games of the season, which restarted on Wednesday without fans, following a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. The league is also respecting the players’ choice to take a knee on the field during or before games to protest police brutality and racism.
"We, the Players, stand together with the singular objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists, to bring about a global society of inclusion, respect, and equal opportunities for all, regardless of their color or creed. This symbol is a sign of unity from all players, all staff, all clubs, all match officials and the Premier League," the players said in a statement released by the league.
The sleeves of the jerseys also feature a Black Lives Matter badge and a badge for the United Kingdoms’ National Health Service.
7:10 AM EDT
Cream of Wheat follows Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s and Mrs. Butterworth’s in review of branding and packaging
Cream of Wheat became the fourth major food marketer to announce a review of its brand imagery on Wednesday, acknowledging concerns about the image of a Black chef that has appeared on its packaging for decades.
“We understand there are concerns regarding the Chef image, and we are committed to evaluating our packaging and will proactively take steps to ensure that we and our brands do not inadvertently contribute to systemic racism. B&G Foods unequivocally stands against prejudice and injustice of any kind.”
Read the full story here.
Earlier on Wednesday, PepsiCo Inc. said it would do away with the Aunt Jemima image of a Black woman and its brand name that dates back to 1889. And Mars Inc. revealed it is “evaluating all possibilities” for the Uncle Ben’s brand which has used an image of a Black chef and waiter since 1946. Then Conagra Brands Inc. said it had begun a brand and packaging review for Mrs. Butterworth's, a syrup brand that’s been around since 1961.
June 17, 2020
6:36 PM EDT
Civil rights groups issue a call to stop advertising on Facebook in July
Civil rights groups, including the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and Sleeping Giants, advocated that advertisers stop buying ads from the company through the month of July.
"We are asking all businesses to stand in solidarity with our most deeply held American values of freedom, equality and justice and not advertise on Facebook’s services in July,” the civil rights groups said in an ad that appeared in The Los Angeles Times. “Let’s send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence.”
Read more here.
6:24 PM EDT
The Ad Council’s 'Love Has No Labels' campaign addresses Black Lives Matter in new spot
The Ad Council’s long-running “Love Has No Labels” campaign directly addresses the Black Lives Matter movement and protests against police violence with a new spot out today. It juxtaposes the freedoms Americans are supposed to be able to take for granted with the deaths and harassment of Black people during innocuous and innocent activities.
Read more here.
5:22 PM EDT
Conagra is reviewing the Mrs. Butterworth’s brand following racial backlash
Mrs. Butterworth’s brand and packaging are under review as brands using images of Black characters receive increased scrutiny from the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd.
Mrs. Butterworth's origin and race have never been specified by the brand. But the dark coloring of the syrup in the clear bottle gives many people the idea she is meant to represent a Black woman.
“The Mrs. Butterworth's brand, including its syrup packaging, is intended to evoke the images of a loving grandmother,” Conagra said in a statement. “We stand in solidarity with our Black and Brown communities and we can see that our packaging may be interpreted in a way that is wholly inconsistent with our values.”
Read more here.
3:45 PM EDT
Dentsu Aegis Network releases its diversity makeup in leaked letter
Jacki Kelley, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network, Americas, sent a leaked letter to staff detailing the ways in which the company will be working to build "a truly diverse workplace, absent of discrimination, racism or bias." The letter also included the diversity makeup of the holding company.
Less than 2 percent of executives are Black or African American and the company is creating a plan to build a more inclusive workplace.
Read more here.
1:42 PM EDT
Netflix CEO donates $120 million to Black institutions
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is personally donating $120 million to historically Black colleges and universities. The donation, which will go to the United Negro College Fund, Spelman College and Morehoue College, is the largest-ever individual gift to support scholarships at historically Black colleges and universities.
The streaming giant also bought billboard ads to promote its Black Lives Matter collection of content that was rolled out last week. Netflix is making an out-of-home push to get people to watch the titles featured in the collection, which includes “13th,” “When They See Us,” “Dear White People” and “Da 5 Bloods.” The ads will appear this week in Los Angeles and New York, including in Times Square.
The company had previously announced it was making a $5 million donation to support several nonprofit organizations.
11:38 AM EDT
ARF CEO will match $150,000 in donations to diversity effort
Advertising Research Foundation CEO Scott McDonald will personally match up to $150,000 in corporate donations to a new program, ARF WIDE: Workforce Initiative for Diversity and Excellence, that aims to provide scholarships, internships, mentoring and networking opportunities for economically disadvantaged college or junior-college students interested in research and analytics. Eligible students include those from minority groups, low-income families, disadvantaged urban, suburban or rural districts or first-generation college students. The effort also will receive some funds from the group’s 2020 ARF David Ogilvy Awards.
11:21 AM EDT
PepsiCo lays out $400 million ‘Journey to Racial Equality’ strategy
PepsiCo said this week it would put in place more than $400 million in initiatives over five years to elevate Black communities, as well as increase Black representation at the company. “We know that the first step toward change is to speak up, so I want to be very clear: Black Lives Matter, to our company and to me,” Chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta said in a statement posted online on Tuesday.
The food and beverage marketer’s “Journey to Racial Equality” plans include adding 100 Black associates to its executive ranks and more than doubling its spending with Black-owned suppliers.
On Wednesday, PepsiCo’s Aunt Jemima brand announced plans to do away with the image of a Black woman on its packaging and plans to change the pancake and syrup brand’s name.
10:49 AM EDT
WPP commits $30 million over next three years to combat systemic racism
WPP is the first holding company to announce a commitment to taking "decisive action on each of the 12 points in the 'Call for Change'" open letter sent to agency leaders last week. WPP also announced an investment of $30 million over the next three years to fund inclusion programs within the holding company and support external organizations fighting racism.
Read more here.
9:46 AM EDT
Uncle Ben’s says it plans to evolve its brand, including the visual identity
Uncle Ben’s may soon get a makeover as owner Mars Food evaluates the brand’s meaning and values and considers the imagery of a Black man that has graced its packaging since 1946.
“As a global brand, we know we have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices,” parent company Mars Inc. said in a statement. “As we listen to the voices of consumers, especially in the Black community, and to the voices of our Associates worldwide, we recognize that one way we can do this is by evolving the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity.”
Read more here.
9:00 AM EDT
Black execs form nonprofit 600 & Rising, backed by the 4As, to hold ad industry accountable for racial equity
Last week, more than 600 Black advertising professionals put out a call to action to ad agency leaders to finally take real steps to end systemic racism in the industry. Now, their coalition has become an official organization, backed by the 4As.
Led by President Nathan Young, who also serves as a group strategy director at Minneapolis agency Periscope, and VP-Partnerships Bennett D. Bennett, principal at consultancy Aerialist, the nonprofit organization is called 600 & Rising—though already it boasts more than 1,100 members.
Read more here.
7:00 AM EDT
Aunt Jemima to retire image and name
Aunt Jemima’s image and name are being retired in a major branding shift that comes weeks into the rising swell of racial justice announcements from companies following the killing of George Floyd.
The Aunt Jemima brand name dates back to 1889. The brand has been owned by PepsiCo Inc. since 2001, when the soft drink and snack giant acquired Quaker Oats Co. The face of a Black woman has been seen on the packaging since the early 1890s and has been updated over the years.
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” Kristin Kroepfl, VP and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a statement. “While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough.”
Packaging without the Aunt Jemima image will begin to appear in the last three months of 2020. The name change is set to be announced at a later date and to quickly follow the first phase of the packaging changes, the company said. Details on the new name were not disclosed.
Read more here.
June 16, 2020
6:21 PM EDT
Roger Goodell encourages NFL teams to sign Colin Kaepernick
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said NFL teams should sign Colin Kaepernick—the former 49ers quarterback who knelt during the national anthem to call attention to racial inequities—if he should choose to return. Kaepernick has not been picked up by an NFL team since the 2016-17 season.
In response to a question from ESPN about what role he foresees Kaepernick playing in the NFL going forward, Goodell responded: “If he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it’s going to take a team to make that decision but I welcome that.” He continued that if Kaepernick does not wish to return, the NFL will welcome him as an advisor on helping the organization “deal with some very complex, difficult issues that have been around unfortunately for a very long time.”
The statement, posted by ESPN on June 15, comes after the commissioner came out with an apology in response to a video created by NFL players, including Patrick Mahomes and Saquon Barkley, in the beginning of June, demanding that the league condemn racism.
In his apology, Goodell said the league was wrong in how it previously handled players’ protests against racism and police brutality. His comments opened up questions about whether Kaepernick would be welcomed back to an NFL team
5:35 PM EDT
Agencies observe Juneteenth as a company holiday
HellaCreative, a collective of Black San Francisco Bay Area creatives, put out a call urging companies to make Juneteenth a company holiday to give employees the day off to “reflect on the enduring legacy of slavery in the country.” Several brands have joined in and now agencies are, as well.
A list of companies celebrating Juneteenth as a holiday can be found here. Agencies that will be doing so include Dagger, GroupM, Oberland, The Martin Agency, Publicis Sapient, MediaCom, Deutsch, Ogilvy, Huge, Praytell, IPG Mediabrands, Big Spaceship, Anomaly, R/GA, Project Worldwide, Verb, George P. Johnson, Moxie, Zenith, MRY, FCB and Essence.
“Dagger will now observe Juneteenth as a day of reflection, respect, and celebration for as long as Dagger exists,” says Dagger CEO Mike Popowski, in announcing the agency’s decision. “When June 19th falls on a weekend, as it does in 2021 and 2022, the company will observe the adjacent Friday or Monday. For this year, we encourage you to try to take this Friday completely away from Dagger responsibilities.”
The Martin Agency, alongside closing its doors on Friday, announced in an Instagram post that it would also be celebrating with a live poetry reading by singer-songwriter Nicky McMullen and a performance by music group Resound.
2:23 PM EDT
NBC looks to diversify shows by funding additional writer for each of its 2020-2021 scripted series
NBC is working to diversify the writers’ rooms for all of its scripted series for the 2020-2021 season by offering showrunners the chance to add a diverse writer at any level to their team before productions get under way.
“Our brand has always championed positive programming, and the events of this year have allowed us the time to take pause, examine our business with a new lens and take some immediate action. ... It is not the solution by any means, but it is something we can do right now to take a positive step,” said Paul Telegdy, chairman, NBC Entertainment.
This comes as NBC unveiled its new fall schedule, which the network is confident will return intact, despite production delays amid COVID-19.
Read more here.
9:36 AM EDT
Free the Work shines a light on the lack of Black directors in ad production
Free the Work, the organization founded by director Alma Har’el to help ensure more representation of female directors in the commercial industry, today shines a light on the lack of representation of Black directors in advertising—through data.
Free the Work analyzed the rosters of more than 100 production firms from the U.S. and the U.K. and found a glaringly low percentage of Black directors across that talent lineup. Moreover, it found many production company rosters had no Black directors at all in their talent pool.
The research, which Free the Work unveiled in a statement to the industry today, found that 34 out of 60 U.S. firms and 25 out of 45 U.K. companies have no Black directors on their benches. More broadly, out of the 1,204 directors in those 60 U.S. shops, only 4 percent are Black, while out of the 1,075 directors across 45 U.K. rosters, only 3 percent are Black.
Read more here.
9:15 AM EDT
Target joins other brands in making Juneteenth a holiday
Last week, several high-profile brands including Nike, Square and Twitter committed to making June 19, or Juneteenth—the day that slavery ended in the U.S.—a paid company holiday. Target is now doing the same, the chain announced via Twitter. Since stores will remain open, Target’s hourly store workers will be paid holiday premium pay, the company said. In a statement, CEO Brian Cornell noted that the trauma the country is experiencing from racism right now is not new, but “there’s a sense that this time is, and has to be, different.” In early June, Target, which is headquartered in the city where George Floyd was killed, said it was investing $10 million to support the African American Leadership Forum and the National Urban League.
7:00 AM EDT
Bumble bridges support for LGBTQ+ and Black Lives Matter with in-app campaign
As Americans began rallying for racial equality and justice for the death of George Floyd at the beginning of June, several brands postponed their original Pride plans or announced that they would incorporate Black Lives Matter support into their Pride initiatives.
Bumble is one of the first brands to announce its new merged Pride, Black Lives Matter initiative. On Monday, the female-focused dating app announced a new in-app campaign that asks users to nominate LGBTQ+ organizations that support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) the company can support with donations. Bumble is looking to donate $5,000 each to select organizations that provide services for at-risk committees, such as bail and mutual aid funds.
Read more here.
June 15, 2020
6:35 PM EDT
Walt Disney places ABC News executive on administrative leave following reports of racist remarks
The media industry is in a state of upheaval as more instances of alleged racial bias and discrimination surface. On Monday, Walt Disney Co. placed an ABC News executive on administrative leave following reports she used racially charged language against Robin Roberts, a black anchor on "Good Morning America." USA Today reported that the executive, Barbara Fedida, was accused of criticizing Roberts during a contract dispute, saying, "it wasn’t as if the network was asking Roberts to 'pick cotton.'" The Huffington Post wrote about the allegation before Fedida was put on administrative leave.
Also on Monday, former employees accused Pinterest of racial insensitivity and criticized the company for claiming to support Black Lives Matter while failing to support them while they worked there. Bloomberg News reported on two former Pinterest employees, both black women who worked on its public policy and social impact team.
Aerica Shimizu Banks said she was subjected to derogatory remarks by a manager, and Ifeoma Ozoma said a male colleague led a bullying campaign against her. “We want to share our story so that if other Black women are experiencing this at Pinterest or other companies, they know that they’re not alone,” Shimizu Banks told Bloomberg News. “We are here to listen to them and support them.”
2:15 PM EDT
Agencies begin to reveal the diversity of their executive boards
Last week, Nathan Young, a group strategy director at Minneapolis agency Periscope, and Bennett D. Bennett, who runs independent consultancy Aerialist, led the charge by writing an open letter to U.S. agencies outlining the list of actions they should take to achieve true equity for people of color in the industry.
In a leaked internal memo, Interpublic Group of Cos. CEO-Chairman Michael Roth became the first holding company leader to speak out about the letter and shared for the first time IPG's minority makeup within its executive ranks. A chart showed that only 2.6 percent of IPG's senior executives and managers are black or African American; 5.5 percent are Asian; 84.9 percent are white; and 5.2 percent are Hispanic or Latinx.
Independent agency Giant Spoon also tweeted out a chart showing its makeup—11 percent of its total staff are black or African American; 8 percent are multiracial; 13 percent are Asian; 5 percent are Latinx; and 63 percent are white. Giant Spoon says all of its partners are white and only 25 percent are female.
1:20 PM EDT
Instagram accounts call out ‘Silent’ and ‘Vocal’ brands
If you were wondering whether anyone is keeping score on what brands are saying or doing about racial injustice, wonder no more. Instagram account @silent_brands and affiliated @vocal_brands have launched to track brand and corporate statements and actions on the issues.
The accounts are run by Garrett McGuire, who identifies himself in an email as a marketing director in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The criteria used to differentiate “active” from “silent” and “corporate checkbox” brands can be found in a post from last week.
“Active” brands are those that specifically mention “Black lives,” cite “specific internal actions to identify and eradicate anti-Black racism,” and make donations to “Black-led or Black justice” organizations. Those deemed “Corporate Checkbox Silent Brands” have made vague comments about equality or justice or just posted a black box on Blackout Tuesday; make no mention of internal actions being taken; and don’t make donations. “Complicit Silent Brands” are those that have done none of the above.
As of Monday, @silent_brands was nearing 3,000 Instagram followers and had called out more than 60 “silent brands,” though at least some of those are part of larger companies that have made statements and/or given money to racial-justice causes in recent weeks, while @vocal_brands had called out 11 mostly beauty brands for positive statements and acts.
Interestingly, one of the “vocal brands,” Clinique, is a unit of Estee Lauder Cos., whose employees earlier this month launched a change.org petition criticizing the company for not giving enough to the Black community and victims of police violence, and sought removal of board member Ronald Lauder for giving large contributions to Donald Trump and pro-Trump political action committees.
In response, Estee Lauder last week pledged to increase donations to $10 million, reach U.S. population parity for Black employees at all levels within five years, increase Black talent on and input on creative teams, and ensure proportionate representation of Black models in ads.
But the company said nothing about removing Lauder from the board.
12:00 PM EDT
Google reveals search data associated with protests, George Floyd
Google today said that U.S. searches for the word “protests” are at its highest point ever. The company adds that the heightened focus on racial inequity is at an inflection point and that advertisers have the power to either break stereotypes or solidify them. “Marketing can be a conversation starter, and it’s painfully obvious that more conversations about systemic inequity and race need to be had,” Google says. The data comes shortly after the company announced a new ad policy that restricts discriminatory targeting.
Meanwhile, Google pieced together a timeline of search interest for “George Floyd,” which the search giant says isn’t just occurring in the U.S., but around the world.
The company released additional data related to the protests, which can be found here.
June 13, 2020
5:00 AM EDT
Saturday Morning co-founders issue call to action
The co-founders of Saturday Morning have issued a call to action for the advertising industry over racism.
The Saturday Morning coalition was founded nearly four years ago in the wake of the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police. Leaders Keith Cartwright, Geoff Edwards, Jayanta Jenkins and Kwame Taylor-Hayford have released a letter following the killing of George Floyd and others.
“We cannot fight for our equality without also fighting to redefine so-called whiteness, and the belief that this world is a birth right of a select few," they write. "When in fact it’s a co-op of complex cultures and ideals built for every man and every woman.” The letter also asserts that the goal is for a world where the organization would be obsolete. “The true success of our organization can only be realized when Saturday Morning no longer needs to exist," the letter states.
Read more here.
June 12, 2020
3:44 PM EDT
P&G moves 'Queen Collective' multicultural film series to BET
Procter & Gamble Co. is moving its "Queen Collective" series of short films from Hulu to BET on June 13 with premieres of two new films joining two prior ones that came out last year. "The Queen Collective" launched in 2018 in partnership with Queen Latifah and Tribeca Studios, to accelerate gender and racial equality behind the camera through mentoring, production support and distribution opportunities for multicultural female directors. The new films include “Tangled Roots,” directed by Samantha Knowles and sponsored by P&G’s My Black Is Beautiful; and “Gloves Off,” sponsored by Olay and co-directed by Nadine Natour and Ugonna Okpalaoka, following African-American police officer Tiara Brown, who moonlights as a boxer.
Read the full story and watch a trailer here.
11:24 AM EDT
‘Bachelor’ casts first Black man in leading role
“The Bachelor” has selected Matt James as the show’s leading man, making it the first time in 25 seasons that a Black man will be the star of the ABC reality dating series. The move comes after Bachelor Nation called for the franchise to cast a Black man as the next bachelor and to be more diverse in its casting. The franchise has only had one person of color in the starring role—Rachel Lindsay became the first Black person to be the leading lady on the 13th season of “The Bachelorette.” James was originally slated to appear in this season of “The Bachelorette,” starring Clare Crawley, but the season was postponed due to COVID-19.
“The Bachelor” creator Mike Fleiss tweeted “We can and will do better.”
June 11, 2020
4:32 PM EDT
Brands, including Nike, make Juneteenth a company holiday
Juneteenth on June 19 commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. In light of George Floyd’s death and the accompanying protests, several companies are honoring the day by making it an official paid company holiday from now on. Nike is one of the latest to do so, according to an internal note sent to employees from Nike CEO John Donahoe and obtained by Yahoo Finance. Nike joins Twitter, Square and Vox Media which have recently announced their plans to do the same.
3:15 PM EDT
PayPal tops brand commitments with $530 million; Apple commits $100 million; YouTube commits $100 million
PayPal announced it’s committing $530 million to black and minority communities, the highest amount a corporation has announced so far. The majority of money ($500 million) is going to minority business and startups through PayPal Ventures, the company’s investment arm.
“We must do the necessary work to dismantle racism in all its forms. This fight for social justice, equality and inclusion continues now,” the brand said in a tweet.
Apple CEO Tim Cook also took to Twitter today to announce a $100 million program called the Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, supporting education, economic opportunity and criminal reform.
Meanwhile, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced a $100 million fund “dedicated to amplifying and developing the voices of Black creators and artists.” It includes a YouTube Originals live-stream event "Bear Witness, Take Action," scheduled for Saturday. The event will collect donations for the non-profit Equal Justice Initiative.
These amounts significantly outpace recent pledges from other major tech companies such as Google ($12 million) Amazon ($10 million) and Facebook ($10 million).
2:09 PM EDT
Lady Antebellum changes its name to Lady A
Country group Lady Antebellum has abandoned the second half of its name, which refers to the time before the Civil War. The group says it chose its original name based on the southern “antebellum” style of home where it shot its first photos. It was only much later that the group realized that the word makes others think about a time when slavery was tolerated. “We understand that many of you may ask the question ‘why have you not made this change until now?’ The answer is that we can make no excuse for our lateness to this realization. What we can do is acknowledge it, turn from it and take action,” the group, now known as Lady A, wrote in a lengthy explanation on Twitter.
1:24 PM EDT
Superfly to host Small Business Live to benefit minority-owned businesses
Superfly, an experience company that connects brands to live events, will be hosting Small Business Live, a live-stream music experience supporting minority-owned small businesses across the U.S. On Saturday, June 20, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. EDT, artists will perform on-site at some of their favorite local minority-owned businesses and share personal stories on why that business is important to them and their communities.
The event will be live-streamed on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitch, Twitter, LiveXLive and Bustle’s digital publications. The event is presented by Superfly in partnership with TikTok, AT&T, GoDaddy, Vistaprint and Square. All proceeds from the event will be donated to Accion Opportunity Fund, which has dedicated 90 percent of its loans to small businesses founded by people of color. The artist lineup includes 2 Chainz, T-Pain, Brittany Howard, Leon Bridges, Brandi Carlile and Nathaniel Rateliff.
“Minority-owned businesses are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said in a statement. “We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential. We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia, and oppression.”
1:15 PM EDT
Restaurant takeout campaign urges orders from black-owned restaurants
The “Great American Takeout” began as a way to support restaurant employees and their families during the pandemic. Now, the group—which was developed by agency High Wide & Handsome and has seen support from the likes of Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Tyson — plans to donate up to $25,000 to Black Lives Matter.
It is urging people order takeout or delivery meals from black-owned restaurants on June 11 and says it will give $5 for each social media post that includes #TheGreatAmericanTakeout and shows a takeout meal from a black-owned restaurant. The group’s site lists black-owned restaurants and also suggests people search for them on the EatOkra app.
12:55 PM EDT
Live Nation Urban dedicates June as Black Music Month
Live Nation Urban, a subsidiary of events promoter and venue operator Live Nation Entertainment, is starting Black Music Month throughout the month of June. Throughout the rest of the month, the company said the Live Nation Urban team will collaborate with various record labels each week to “release exclusive musical content celebrating the footprint and evolution of black culture within the music industry.” Labels that have signed onto the project so far include Atlantic Records, Columbia Records, Epic Records, Interscope Records and Motown Records.
As part of the initiative, there will also be a “Meet the Founders” series airing weekly that features conversations with executives, crew and staff from various brands, entertainment events and live shows. Each episode throughout the month of June will include a record label executive discussing how black music has influenced their careers. Live Nation Urban’s Black Music Month will also feature performances from the participating record labels’ artists.
“Black Music has been at the epicenter of global culture for generations. Live Nation Urban is proud to partner with iconic labels across Black Music Month to celebrate our music in a time of transformative change in the United States and in the world,” said Brandon Pankey, Live Nation Urban.
12:41 PM EDT
P&G calls on the silent majority to be 'anti-racist'
Procter & Gamble continues its “Take on Race” initiative with an introspective call to action aimed at people who don’t usually speak up about systemic racism and police violence. “The Choice” is the first work from Cartwright, a new agency founded by Saturday Morning co-founder Keith Cartwright.
Watch the spot and read more here.
5:30 AM EDT
Keyword blocking hits Black Lives Matter content
Marketers are increasingly preventing their ads from appearing alongside content related to Black Lives Matter protests, with some blocking keywords including “black people,” “George Floyd” or “BLM,” according to a top executive at Vice Media. Paul Wallace, VP of global revenue products and services at Vice Media, says CPMs for protest stories are 57 percent lower than for other coverage.
Read more here.
June 10, 2020
5:58 PM EDT
Famous white women like Julia Roberts share their Instagram accounts with black female leaders
Earlier this week, celebrities Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez and Shawn Mendes announced they were handing over their Instagram accounts to black activists and organizations for several days. Today, a social campaign launched with a coordinated effort to get female A-Listers with large social followings to do the same thing.
A new social campaign called #ShareTheMicNow has 46 black women, some more known than others, take over the Instagram accounts of 46 famous white women for the day so that black female voices could be better heard. The event began at 1 pm EST with groups beginning at different points of the day.
Participants include actresses like Julia Roberts, Kourtney Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow, athletes Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, businesswoman Diane Von Furstenburg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Some of the black women taking over the accounts included #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, transgender rights activist Angelica Ross and acting president of Planned Parenthood Alexis McGill Johnson.
The intention of the campaign is to “magnify black women and the important work they’re doing in order to catalyze the change that will only come when we truly hear each other’s voices,” reads an Instagram post by Katie Couric, another participant in the campaign. “When the world listens to women, it listens to white women.”
The idea was conceived by Bozoma Saint John, chief marketing officer at William Morris Endeavor and previously the chief brand officer at Uber, authors Luvvie Ajayi Jones and Glennon Doyle and Stacey Benet, founder of Alice + Olivia.
The campaign encourages white women with large social followings to continue the practice and conversation with the hashtag #KeepSharingtheMic has its own Instagram account @Sharethemicnow and already has 23,500 followers.
“Today, more than ever, it is NECESSARY that we create a unifying action to center Black women’s lives, stories, and calls to action,” reads a statement on the campaign’s Instagram. “We need to listen to Black women.”
5:06 PM EDT
Nascar bans Confederate flags at its races
Nascar said its fans would no longer be allowed to display the Confederate flag at its events or properties. Some people complained on social media, saying the auto racing association caved to liberals. The announcement comes after driver Bubba Wallace called for the move during an interview on CNN on Monday. Wallace, who is black, plans to race with #BlackLivesMatter messaging on his car during Wednesday night’s race.
Nascar’s decision came the same day President Trump came out in opposition to renaming U.S. military bases carrying the names of Confederate officers. His position, outlined in a tweet, drew this response ad from the Lincoln Project, a conservative advocacy group that has run multiple ads opposing the president.
3:04 PM EDT
Netflix launches a Black Lives Matter collection
A day after HBO Max removed “Gone With the Wind” and Paramount Network canceled “Cops,” Netflix is highlighting its lineup of films and TV shows that tell the stories of black Americans and documents the history of racial injustice in the United States. The streaming service has launched a new collection on its platform called “More than a Moment.” It includes Netflix original films like Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” (coming out on Friday), Ava DuVernay’s “13th,” and original series like “Dear White People,” “The Innocence files” and “When They See Us.”
“Black lives matter. Learn more about racial injustice and the black experience in America with this collection of films, series and documentaries,” reads the platform. The collection can be reached through Netflix’s main menu and at netflix.com/blacklivesmatter.
"When we say 'Black Lives Matter,' we also mean 'Black storytelling matters,'" Netflix said in a statement on Twitter. "With an understanding that our commitment to true, systemic change will take time — we're starting by highlighting powerful and complex narratives about the Black experience."
The company first made a statement against racism on May 30 as protests for the death of George Floyd began sweeping the nation. "To be silent is to be complicit. Black lives matter. We have a platform, and we have a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up,” Netflix had said in a tweet, which has since racked up more than one million likes.
11:04 AM EDT
Michael Seibel joins Reddit board, fulfilling co-founder's call for black leadership
Reddit appointed to its board Michael Seibel, partner and CEO at the startup incubator Y Combinator, who fills the spot vacated by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Last week, Ohanian stepped down from Reddit's board in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and he called for a black leader to take his place. The resignation shined a light on Reddit's issues dealing with hate speech in certain corners of the platform.
Seibel, who is African American, is a tech entrepreneur. He co-founded Justin.tv, which has since become Twitch, the popular streaming video site owned by Amazon. He also co-founded Socialcam.
"I’ve watched Reddit become part of the core fabric of the internet," Seibel said in Reddit's announcement on Wednesday, "and I’m excited to help provide advice and guidance as Reddit continues to grow and tackle the challenges of bringing community and belonging to a broader audience.”
Read more here.
11:04 AM EDT
BabyNames.com lists names of black lives lost to police violence on homepage
Even BabyNames.com, a planning site for prospective parents, has a statement against systemic racism–and it's taking over its homepage.
Below its search bar is a black box that lists dozens of names of black Americans who have died from police violence or at the hands of civilians. The list includes names that have appeared in the mainstream news, and others that have not. The list ends with George Floyd, who called out for his mother as he lost consciousness at the hands of the police.
“Each one of these names was somebody’s baby,” reads the box, followed by: “BabyNames.com stands in solidarity with the black community.” The black box (which visitors can choose to close) pushes down the site’s list of trending names and its “Name of the Day” feature.
The message, which went up on Tuesday, has gone viral on social media, with some people saying they couldn’t access the site because it was too busy. On social media, people called it one of the most powerful statements coming from corporate America.
9:35 AM EDT
HBO Max removes ‘Gone With the Wind;’ Paramount Network cancels ‘Cops’
TV networks and streaming services are removing problematic content from their offerings in light of the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests.
On Tuesday, HBO Max pulled Civil War epic “Gone With the Wind” from its platform, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The 1939 film has long been controversial for romantizing slavery. An op-ed from “12 Years A Slave” screenwriter John Ridley published in the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday brought renewed focus to the film’s prejudices.
HBO Max told The Hollywood Reporter that the film will eventually return to the service with a discussion around its historical context and a denouncement of the depictions of black people.
Paramount Network has canceled long-running police reality show “Cops” for good after earlier removing it from its schedule, reveals The Hollywood Reporter. The show has long been criticized for the way it depicts suspects and police tactics.
Meanwhile the BBC has removed comedy show “Little Britain” from its iPlayer streaming service because of some sketches involving blackface. The show, which starred David Walliams and Matt Lucas and aired from 2003, has also been removed from Netflix and BritBox, reports The Daily Mail, with the BBC confirming that it had gone because “times have changed.”
9:11 AM EDT
Adidas pledges that 30 percent of new hires will be black or Latinx
Adidas announced it is making changes following employee unrest at how the company treats its black staffers. The sportswear giant committed to filling a minimum of 30 percent of all new positions with black and Latinx people. In addition, Adidas will invest $20 million to programs that support black communities over the next four years in the U.S., and give money to university scholarships for black employees. “As Adidas, we will create a lasting change and we will do it now,” said CEO Kasper Rorsted in a statement. Earlier this month, Adidas employees expressed dissatisfaction with the company’s response to racial inequality.
9:05 AM EDT
How a CEO reacts to Black Lives Matter could affect purchase decisions, according to survey
Consumers care about how a CEO reacts to social topics including Black Lives Matter, suggests a new survey from data intelligence firm Morning Consult that polled over 11,000 Americans. Some 69 percent of the group said how CEOs react to such topics could permanently alter their decision to buy from a brand, and 70 percent said CEOs are responsible for combating racism and discrimination. In addition 83 percent said actions speak louder than words when it comes to fighting racial inequality, particularly within an organization’s own hiring practices.
The numbers come at a time when many employees are speaking out about their leadership’s response to the national protests for social justice. Adidas staffers recently formed a coalition for change in how the company treats black employees. Facebook has had its share of issues as well, as employees staged a walkout regarding CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s handling of President Trump’s use of the platform, and Estee Lauder staffers recently started a petition calling for the removal of heir Ronald Lauder because of his political affiliation.
8:56 AM EDT
CrossFit CEO steps down after insensitive George Floyd remarks
The CEO and founder of fitness brand CrossFit has become the latest senior business figure to depart amid the racial injustice protests following the death of George Floyd. Greg Glassman stepped down Tuesday night, saying he was “retiring,” two days after Reebok ended its partnership with the company over an insensitive tweet about Floyd he wrote on Saturday. As Bloomberg News reports, Glassman issued a statement saying: “I created a rift in the CrossFit community and unintentionally hurt many of its members.”
As well as his tweet about Floyd, a report by BuzzFeed News revealed Glassman told gym owners on a private Zoom call, “We're not mourning for George Floyd — I don't think me or any of my staff are.” He also questioned the motives of protestors.
Glassman's resignation is just the latest in a series of high-profile departures in the past week as a result of the protests. Meanwhile, after Reddit Co-Founder Alexis Ohanian stepped down last week and asked to be replaced by a black candidate, the company has done just that, reports The Verge, appointing Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel to its board of directors.
June 9, 2020
6:15 PM EDT
Wieden+Kennedy and 72andSunny link #trump2020 to ‘racist feeds’ in #FlowersForFloyd social movement
Today, George Floyd’s funeral aired to audiences across the U.S. In honor of the event, creatives from Wieden+Kennedy and 72andSunny developed a social movement that began last night and carried into today with a desire to mute hate for a day. Posts of purple flowers instruct people to share them with a series of hashtags to flood “racist feeds” with #FlowersForFloyd. The hashtag feeds include: #bluelivesmatter, #whitelivesmatter, #alllivesmatter, as well as President Trump-inspired hashtags like #maga and #trump2020.
The idea came from Taylor Roberts (Wieden+Kennedy) and Justin Joo (72&Sunny), and the flower image was designed by Reshidev RK. Wieden+Kennedy New York and Wieden+Kennedy’s Design Instagram account shared the post to Instagram last night, and 72andSunnny shared the post to Twitter. “Help flood the feeds of racist movements with #FlowersForFloyd. Share this post to your feed and tag #bluelivesmatter #whitelivesmatter #alllivesmatter #maga & #trump2020,” read the posts.
It’s a bold move from the agencies. Wieden+Kennedy works with mainstream brands like Ford, McDonald’s and Bud Light, and 72andSunny works with mainstream brands like the NFL and Samsung, whose consumer base cuts across the political spectrum.
5:26 PM EDT
Change.org rolls out ‘Justice for George Floyd’ digital billboards nationwide
Petition platform Change.org is rolling out bright red digital billboards nationwide that call for “Justice for George Floyd.” The billboard campaign began last week in New York and Minneapolis, and now 118 billboards are springing up in cities across the U.S. including San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta and other locations with a high concentration of people who have signed Change.org’s petition demanding justice for George Floyd, according to a spokesperson for the platform.
Change.org’s initial petition demands that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freemanto arrest and charge all officers involved in Floyd’s death. The officers have been arrested and charged, but “we haven’t yet seen justice,” reads Change.org’s website.
Along with the billboards, the ads appear on social, email and on top of taxis in New York City. The campaign directs people to the website change.org/George where they can still sign the petition. The billboards were created when 10 million people had signed the petition. Now, over 17 million people have. Change.org designed the campaign in-house and was supported by donations. It’s the company’s largest ad buy to promote a petition to-date, according to the spokesperson.
1:25 PM EDT
ANA admits ‘limited progress’ on diversity and inclusion initiatives, calls for action
The Association of National Advertisers says it wants to improve on its “limited progress in all aspects of diversity and inclusion.” The organization, along with its diversity arm, the Alliance for Inclusive & Multicultural Marketing, issued a call to action on Tuesday that included a letter to member companies asking them to pledge to take steps to become more diverse and inclusive.
“As we experience unprecedented loss due to the novel coronavirus, Black and Brown communities continue to face an age-old virus that has infected America for four centuries: racism,” reads the letter,
Read more here.
12:41 PM EDT
L'Oréal makes peace with the black model it fired, after social media backlash
L’Oréal Paris has come to terms with black transgender model Munroe Bergdorf nearly three years after the brand fired her over a Facebook post it said was “at odds with our values.” L’Oréal faced social-media backlash last week from Bergdorf and many others saying the brand was being hypocritical after supporting Black Lives Matter on social media.
In a statement today, L’Oréal Paris Brand President Delphine Viguier said that she’d had “an honest, transparent and vulnerable conversation” with Bergdorf. “While both agree today that negative labels should not be used to define all individuals in any group, I understand much better the pain and trauma that were behind Munroe’s words back then and the urgency she felt to speak in defense of the Black community against systematic racism,” Viguier said. “I regret the lack of dialogue and support the company showed Munroe around the time of the termination.”
Read more here.
12:29 PM EDT
More than 600 black agency professionals call for end to systemic racism in open letter to industry leaders
Nathan Young, a group strategy director at Minneapolis agency Periscope, lives four blocks away from where George Floyd was killed. Young, along with Bennett D. Bennett, who runs independent consultancy Aerialist, have led the charge on writing an open letter to U.S. agencies outlining the list of action items they should take to achieve true equity for people of color in the industry.
So far, it’s been signed by more than 600 black ad professionals across the U.S., from agencies including 360i, Anomaly, Burrell, Cashmere, Droga5, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Wieden+Kennedy and many more.
Read more here.
9:45 AM EDT
Goodby Silverstein emblazons its agency windows with message about racial injustice
"Being black is not a crime" is the message currently emblazoned on the windows of Goodby Silverstein & Partners' HQ in San Francisco, as the agency takes a stand against racial injustice.
“We have often used our building to amplify our beliefs as a company. Looking at the racism and hate that threatens black Americans every day, we just couldn’t stand by in silence,” said Jeff Goodby, co-chairman and founder, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, in a statement.
Read more here.
9:32 AM EDT
British tea brands unite against racism on Twitter
British tea brands Yorkshire Tea and PG Tips have been taking on critics of the racial injustice protests on Twitter — and winning much admiration. In response to a right-wing YouTube vlogger named Laura Towler, who tweeted that she was happy that her local brand Yorkshire Tea had not yet supported the Black Lives Matter movement, the brand replied “Please don’t buy our tea again. We’re taking some time to educate ourselves and plan proper action before we post. We stand against racism.”
Yorkshire Tea was then backed up by Unilever-owned tea brand PG Tips. In response to tweets calling for a boycott of Yorkshire Tea, PG Tips tweeted: “If you are boycotting teas that stand against racism, you’re going to have to find two new brands now #blacklivesmatter #solidaritea.” Soon the #solidaritea hashtag was trending, with one follower calling it “the most British corporate statement imaginable.”
June 8, 2020
8:28 PM EDT
Bon Appétit Editor in Chief resigns after brown face photo emerges and publication denies allegations it only pays white editors for videos
Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport has resigned after an image of him in brown face began circulating on Twitter from a 2013 Instagram post, as well as allegations that the magazine only pays white editors for video appearances.
He posted his resignation to his Instagram account Monday night, writing: “I am stepping down as editor in chief of Bon Appétit to reflect on the work that I need to do as a human being and to allow Bon Appétit to get to a better place. From an extremely ill-conceived Halloween costume 16 years ago to my blind spots as an editor, I’ve not championed an inclusive vision.”
On Monday, Chef and restauranteur Sohla El-Waylly, who was hired to be an assistant editor at Bon Appétit, said in an Instagram Story that only white editors are paid to make video appearances at the publication. She has appeared in the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen video series. She writes that she was hired at a $50,000 salary to assist “mostly white editors with significantly less experience than me.”
“I demand...the resignation of @rapoport but also to see BIPOC given fair titles, fair salaries, and compensation for video,” she writes in her Story. Bon Appétit senior food editor Molly Baz also wrote in an Instagram Story: “Please let it be known that I stand with my family @bonappetitmag and do not support the behavior of our current editor in chief.” Carla Lalli Music, Bon Appétit editor at large, also said she supported Baz’s position.
On Twitter, Bon Appetit staff photographer Alex Lau posted a thread stating that one of the reasons he left the magazine was because “white leadership refused to make changes that my BIPOC coworkers and I constantly pushed for.”
Last month, Condé Nast laid off 100 employees in the U.S. and placed another 100 on unpaid leave amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Just yesterday, Bon Appétit posted an article to Twitter highlighting black-owned businesses in cities across the U.S.
6:05 PM EDT
Comcast commits $100 million to a three-year plan in fight for equality
Today, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts announced a $100 million commitment to advancing equality, made up of $75 million in cash and $25 million in media.
“I’ve spoken with many employees – as have our leaders across Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal and Sky – and we have begun to mobilize as a company,” wrote Roberts in a blog post. “While we recognize we don’t have all the answers, we agree it’s time that we start putting our words into real, sustainable action.”
In the post, Roberts highlights the organizations that Comcast plans on partnering with, including the National Urban League, the Equal Justice Initiative, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Action Network and the Community Justice Action Fund. He goes on to say the company will give employees anti-racism and anti-bias training, invest in diverse talent, amplify multicultural content and help small businesses owned by people of color.
Roberts has appointmented Criag Robinson, executive VP and chief diversity officer at NBCUniversal to lead the effort. The pledge follows the company’s initial statement against racism last week.
5:45 PM EDT
Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez and Shawn Mendes hand over Instagram accounts to black activists and organizations
Superstars like Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez and Shawn Mendes are going a step further than simply stating their support for Black Lives Matter by handing over their Instagram accounts to black activists and organizations. Several key black leaders like Alicia Garza, co-creator of Black Lives Matter, and Luis Jonathan Hernandez, founder of advocacy group Youth Over Guns, have been heard by millions, since the stars shared their commitments to amplify black voices.
Read more here.
12:05 PM EDT
72andSunny gifts employees Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 'Between the World and Me'
In the wake of George Floyd’s death and protests continuing nationwide, brands and agencies are determining ways they can guide their employees to understand racism and affect change. On Saturday, MDC’s 72andSunny announced on LinkedIn that it has given its employees copies of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ best-selling book “Between the World and Me” as part of a new internal practice of gathering to discuss books, films and podcasts about the “vastness of the black experience.” “To some, a book may seem a small gesture, but we believe in the power of art to educate and transform—both are needed now more than ever,” reads the LinkedIn post. “We hope others do the same.” The post links to a webpage of U.S. bookstores that specialize in black literature.
11:34 AM EDT
Sesame Street airs a ‘Standing Up to Racism’ town hall on CNN
On Saturday morning, CNN aired an hour-long town hall with Sesame Street about racism and how it affects people. Called “Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism,” the show was moderated by CNN political commentator Van Jones, CNN anchor Erica Hill and Sesame Street’s own Big Bird, and featured the children show’s other characters like Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Rosita.
In the show, Elmo’s father teaches Elmo about racism and why people are protesting, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms answers questions submitted by families, Abby Cadabby shares her experience with racism and former Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey shared a message to children of color. CNN later posted the entire show online.
10:23 AM EDT
Reebok ends partnership with CrossFit over CEO’s comment on George Floyd
Racial injustice arguments reverberated through the sports world this weekend. On Sunday, Reebok announced that it will end its relationship with the gym network CrossFit by the end of the year, following an insensitive tweet about George Floyd by its CEO, Greg Glassman.
As Forbes reports, the move came after Glassman's response on Saturday to a June 4 tweet by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The IHME tweet read: “Racism and discrimination are critical public health issues that demand an urgent response, wherever they occur. #BlackLivesMatter.” Glassman tweeted “It’s FLOYD-19.”
The tweet sparked outrage on Twitter and Reebok subsequently told Footwear News it would discontinue its sponsorship of the CrossFit Games after 2020. While Glassman has since apologized for his comments, he’s also been criticized heavily by others in the world of sport, including some of CrossFit's own affiliated gyms and athletes. The row comes as sports leaders come under pressure from their athletes to take a stand against racism, and some, such as the National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, have already done so.
June 5, 2020
7:45 PM EDT
TBWA/Chiat/Day Chief Creative Officer covers tuition for creatives of color
On LinkedIn, this week, TBWA/Chiat/Day New York Chief Creative Officer Chris Beresford-Hill put out an offer to cover the tuition for 10 aspiring creatives of color at New York’s AdHouse portfolio school. “If you know a creative person of color that wants to learn the skills and build a book, please reach out to me,” he wrote.
Given the amount of interest the post has generated so far, Beresford-Hill made tomorrow, Saturday, June 6, the cutoff date for those interested in the opportunity. But he pledged to continue the initiative.
“If the students benefit from this, I promise to find a way to enroll at least 10 people every year,” he wrote in an update. “Also, this is the last I will say about it. I’d like to do more and talk less. I wish it had not taken the events of last week for me to use my platform, and what I have, to take more action and help give people opportunities.”
4:25 PM EDT
Jordan Brand says it is “more than one man,” donates $100 million
The Jordan Brand and Michael Jordan released a statement committing a $100 million donation, spread over the next 10 years, to organizations that will ensure racial equality and social justice. The statement, tweeted by a spokeswoman, noted that “Jordan Brand is more than one man. It has always been a family. We represent a proud family that has overcome obstacles, fought against discrimination in communities worldwide and works every day to erase the stain of racism and the damage of injustice.”
Earlier in the day, Nike, which owns the Jordan Brand, announced it is donating $40 million over four years to promoting racial justice—the new donation is a separate initiative, Jordan Brand President Craig Williams said in a statement. He noted that despite the brand’s Jordan Wings Program, which provides access to education, mentorship and opportunity to black youths, the brand can “do more.
3:50 PM EDT
Chipotle’s support of National Urban League includes accepting small online donations
Chipotle Mexican Grill says people who order on its app or site will soon be able to round their bills to the next highest dollar amount to support the National Urban League. The chain is pledging $1 million to fight systemic racism, beginning with its own $500,000 donation to the National Urban League. “The fears the black community face daily are real and have gone unaddressed for too long,” Chairman and CEO Brian Niccol said in a letter posted on the company’s site. The announcement comes after Chipotle was among numerous brands that participated in Blackout Tuesday on Instagram earlier this week. “We need to do better and we encourage our community and fans to join us in our fight for equality,” Niccol’s letter concludes.
9:46 AM EDT
Brands, celebrities and influencers honor Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday
Today, brands, celebrities and influencers are celebrating the 27th birthday of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by Louisville police officers on March 13. Many are encouraging people to donate to her GoFundMe and sign petitions in her name. Police entered her apartment with a “no knock warrant,” believing drugs were being sold to the building. No officers have been charged in her case.
9:32 AM EDT
Nike commits $40 million to social justice
On the heels of its widely-discussed “Don’t Do It” video discouraging racism, Nike is now making a financial commitment to the black community. The sportswear giant, which includes Converse and Jordan as well as the namesake Nike brand, plans to donate $40 million over four years to supporting organizations that promote social justice and education in the U.S.
“The Nike Inc. family can always do more but will never stop striving to role model how a diverse company acts,” said John Donahoe, president and CEO, in a statement. The company also noted that it is increasing its own internal diversity efforts as well, continuing a push it has been ramping up in recent years as a result of criticism of a lack of inclusivity.
Indeed, in recent days some have said Nike needs to do more than just marketing. Steve Stoute, CEO and founder of ad agency Translation, recently spoke on Ad Age Remotely about the issue of diversity on Nike’s leadership team. “I think Nike, which makes billions of billions of dollars off the African-American community, needs to really step up besides advertising,” Stoute said. “You talk about a brand that capitalized for decades off of young black people, doing anything they can to buy the most expensive sneaker in the market.” He added that Nike should make “a very clear effort to do something to help the communities” and in a “loud way.”
8:54 AM EDT
NFL stars put league on defensive over its response to racial injustice
Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley and several other National Football League stars are demanding that the league issue a more detailed response to racial injustice.
“It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered,” the players stated in the video posted to their social media channels. “How many times do we need to ask you to listen to your players? What will it take? For one of us to be murdered by police brutality? What if I was George Floyd?”
The players call on the league to “condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people.” They also demand that the NFL “admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting”—an apparent reference to how the league handled Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem to call attention to racial inequities. The former 49ers quarterback has not been picked up by an NFL team since the 2016-17 season.
Asked for comment, a league spokesman pointed to an Instagram post that went live before the players video, in which the NFL stated: “This is a time of self-reflection for all —the NFL is no exception. We stand with the black community because Black Lives Matter.” The post also references $44 million in donations the league has given to “hundreds of worthy organizations,” adding “this year, we are committing an additional $20 million to these causes and we will accelerate efforts to highlight their critical work. We know that we can and need to do more.”
June 4, 2020
5:32 PM EDT
Coke CEO pledges more diverse leadership, calls the company’s current representation ‘poor’
In remarks to employees this week, Coca-Cola Co. CEO James Quincey conceded that the company has not done enough to put African Americans in leadership positions, with only 7 percent of top jobs held by black people. He called that number “poor,” while saying “we need to be more effective in making progress.” African Americans comprise 19 percent of the company’s total employee population, he said.
Coke posted his speech at the virtual employee town hall on its corporate blog. “Companies like ours must speak up as allies to the Black Lives Matter movement,” he said. “With George Floyd’s death, I’ve been reflecting on our duty to black people in America. Simply put, America hasn’t made enough progress, corporate America hasn’t made enough progress and nor has The Coca-Cola Company.” He pledged to “use the voices of our brands to weigh in on important social conversations,” while announcing $2.5 million in grants from The Coca-Cola Foundation to Equal Justice Initiative, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Coke earlier this week turned off its Times Square billboard for a day to mark “Blackout Tuesday.” On social media, it has begun promoting the message “together we must,” which is getting mixed reviews.
One commenter cited the brand’s famous “Hilltop” ad, saying “we need come together share a Coke be safe and live safely in harmony.” But other commenters were more skeptical, including one who tweeted “Platitudes meant to placate the cause of the week.”
1:00 PM EDT
IAB gives employees days off to volunteer for social causes
The Interactive Advertising Bureau and the IAB Tech Lab said Thursday that it’s giving employees two days of paid time off each month leading up to the election to volunteer for any political or social cause of their choosing. If everyone participates, the IAB and Tech Lab will contribute “700 days of people power;” the organization has roughly 70 employees. The move comes after the nonprofit trade body held internal discussions on how it could contribute to the social movement taking place in cities and towns across the country. The group says it hopes other companies follow suit, but that may not be possible given the belt-tightening occurring at most companies.
“The IAB and the IAB Tech Lab share the fears of our diverse staff and membership that the democratic principles underlying the constitutional basis of republican government in the United States are under assault,” the trade body said in a statement. “Powerful individuals, groups and some government officials are disenfranchising African-Americans and other minority groups, suppressing voting rights, inciting local police to harm citizens exercising their first amendment rights and promoting violence against the press.”
“Rather than simply condemn these actions, we encourage our staff and members to work to further American democracy,” the IAB said. “We hope this pro bono effort by the IAB team will help improve civic discourse, generate more participation in worthy causes and effect meaningful, lasting change in the United States of America.”
12:45 PM EDT
Pinterest donates money and ad space
Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann committed the company to the civil rights movement sparked by the death of George Floyd by promising money to support groups advocating for racial justice. Pinterest also will donate $750,000 of free ad space to racial justice groups.
"We heard directly from our black employees about the pain and fear they feel every day living in America. Their first-hand, lived experiences of racism and injustice," Silbermann wrote in a blog post. "How the murder of George Floyd—a friend, a father, a son—forced the world to face the reality that the systemic racism facing the black community for generations remains very real today. It’s wrong. This has got to change."
Pinterest is mostly known as a site to plan life events, vacations, meals and home remodeling, but it also is a media platform that highlights lifestyles of diverse audiences. "We are working to make sure the content people see on Pinterest represents people from diverse backgrounds," Silbermann wrote.
Pinterest joins other tech companies promising to promote inclusion and use their platforms to elevate marginalized people. Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel wrote a memo to employees over the weekend demanding reparations for black people in America and reforms to combat racism. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey committed $3 million to the group founded by Colin Kaepernick, Know Your Rights Camp.
Pinterest said it would donate $500,000 in stock to racial justice organizations. The company also said it would donate $250,000 to businesses in communities affected by demonstrations.
9:54 AM EDT
Warner Bros. makes ‘Just Mercy’ free to rent to educate viewers on ‘systemic racism’
Warner Bros. is making its 2019 film “Just Mercy” free to rent on digital platforms, including YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Prime and Google Play, throughout June.
The movie captures the racial injustice struggles black individuals face in the courtroom. It’s based on the 2014 memoir of attorney Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Michael B. Jordan plays Stevenson, who helps Jamie Foxx’s character appeal his murder conviction.
When the movie was released in December, it was the first studio film to be produced with the inclusion rider as part of contracts, making it mandatory to consider minorities for cast and crew roles.
Warner Bros. hopes it can offer some education on the inequalities facing black people in the U.S.
“We believe in the power of story,” Warner Bros. said in a tweet on Tuesday. “Our film ‘Just Mercy,’ based on the life work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, is one resource we can humbly offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society.”
June 3, 2020
6:45 PM EDT
Ad agencies with blanket statements are getting called out
Agency statements that simply say that they stand against social injustice and plan on taking action or artistic posts are being met with opposition. Commenters want to know exactly how agencies are planning on making changes and the breakdown of their leadership teams.
The first comment made on a cursory statement posted to Instagram on Wednesday by Saatchi & Saatchi reads: “What type of change are you actually planning on taking within your company? Or is this just a social media stunt? Are you giving any of your black employees time off during this week? How many of them are in senior positions? Because as seen on your website, there are no black people on your top leadership team. Change comes from within–start there.”
Edelman posted a similar statement to Instagram on Wednesday. “Cool. What are you guys actually doing though?” reads a comment.
VaynerMedia saw the same backlash when its own statement to Instagram, pushing people to do their part without mentioning what the agency plans on doing itself. “Which groups have you donated to? Which groups dedicated towards uplifting POC voices do you support?...I think sharing that would be meaningful,” reads one statement.
Meanwhile, other agencies are going beyond blanket statements and are sharing how they are donating to organizations, sharing resources about how others can get involved and speaking out about helping fellow creatives. Their statements are being met with much more enthusiasm.
Mo Said, founder of creative agency Mojo Supermarket, went a step further and posted to LinkedIn stating that his agency would help out any black creative who is not feeling up for work, without charge. "Hey agency c-suite. If you have a black creative or strategist that needs to take some time off– Mojo Supermarket will lend you an equally matched person from our agency. For free."
5:21 PM EDT
Procter & Gamble launches Take On Race fund with $5 million
Procter & Gamble Co. today put $5 million as an initial contribution into a Take On Race fund that will support several existing organizations in North America. They include the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, YWCA Stand Against Racism and the United Negro College Fund in addition to smaller advocacy organizations including Courageous Conversation.
The effort extends a Take On Race conference P&G organized in September that included presentations from Walmart and JP Morgan Chase, and an invitation in April for other companies to join the coalition. P&G has taken an increasingly vocal role on racial bias in the U.S. in recent years that included “The Talk” and “The Look” videos.
P&G brands including Gillette and Charmin publicized the new fund via unpaid posts in their social channels on Wednesday. In a blog post on Saturday, P&G Chairman-CEO David Taylor said: “Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Christian Cooper. We need to know their names. We need to understand their stories. We need to acknowledge the tragic events that brought them to the forefront are not new; they are simply the latest examples that illustrate the individual bias, systemic racism and instances of brutality that remain all too common.
5:15 PM EDT
Disney pledges $5 million after initial inclusion statement
Brands are now backing up their initial statements against racism with pledges and internal action.
On Wednesday, Walt Disney Co. pledged $5 million in donations to social justice reform organizations and George Floyd protests across the U.S. Disney is giving $2 million to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and matching donations given by employees to organizations of their choosing.
“The killing of George Floyd has forced our nation to once again confront the long history of injustice that black people in America have suffered, and it is critical that we stand together, speak out and do everything in our power to ensure that acts of racism and violence are never tolerated,” said Bob Chapek, CEO of The Walt Disney Co., in a statement in a company blog post. “This $5 million pledge will continue to support the efforts of nonprofit organizations such as the NAACP that have worked tirelessly to ensure equality and justice.”
In the blog post, Disney mentioned that it has previously given millions of dollars in grants to students from underrepresented groups, including $2.5 million to the United Negro College Fund.
On Tuesday night, Disney aired programming to encourage a discussion of racism and oppression in the U.S., which included a ABC News special about the protests around George Floyd’s death called “America in Pain: What Comes Next?” and two episodes of “Black-ish,” with one episode focused on police brutality.
Disney’s pledge comes after a statement the company issued to social media on May 31, saying it “stands for inclusion.”
4:55 PM EDT
Fernando Machado doesn’t want anyone’s ideas for racial injustice stunt marketing
Fernando Machado, the global chief marketing officer at Restaurant Brands International, is often on social media promoting marketing from the chains he oversees — Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons — and sharing his thoughts on creativity. This week, he’s tired of people suggesting that stunts are the way for the company to go.
“Dear creative community, please do not send me another idea for a stunt to show that we support the African American community,” Machado posted on Twitter. “Instead, hire more African Americans for the agency. Or help us evolve the diversity agenda here in my company (cause we need it). Actions, not ads.”
Burger King on Tuesday posted a blackout image on Instagram along with the comment “we stand with you in support of equality and justice for black lives and we will use our platform, our position, and our voice to do so. when it comes to people’s lives, there’s only one way to have it. without discrimination,” and shared the same message on Twitter. Popeyes posted its own Black Lives Matter message on Twitter, which begins “We are nothing without Black lives.” Tim Hortons addressed the issue in its own voice on social media with a message that concluded: “We are listening, so we can recognize racial and social injustice and commit to change.”
2:43 PM EDT
Pod Digital Media CEO demands advertisers #SupportBlackVoices
Gary Coichy, founder and CEO of Pod Digital Media and an Ad Age 40 Under 40, released a letter to his 425 podcasters of color demanding that advertisers #SupportBlackVoices. He also asks the podcast community to be vocal and active during this time. Pod Digital Media is a multicultural podcast network.
Dear Podcast Community,
Your voice matters now more than ever.
The horrific deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have deeply affected us all, forcing America to truly see its reflection in the face of racism and police brutality.
POD Digital Media remains committed to connecting brands with multicultural podcasts and the people who shape the culture and conversations at large; and it is pivotal moments like this where we as a community must remember why we do what we do.
Podcasting has provided marginalized voices a platform to share, celebrate, and honor our collective triumphs and losses. I encourage you to stay true to that, leverage your platforms to create meaningful dialogue, and share unique perspectives that connect and resonate with your listeners.
We acknowledge and have been truly moved by the show of support from our brand partners & ad holding companies who have publicly responded with compassion, unity, and commitments to racial equality.
The protests across the world have shown us all it is not enough to just #SayTheirNames. We challenge brands to #SupportBlackVoices in meaningful ways. Listen to podcasts from our community, and donate to causes, such as Color of Change, that advocate and provide meaningful solutions. We firmly believe your voice and actions can make a difference and may inspire new ways of thinking and being.
We see, hear, and fully support those fighting on the frontlines for equality, justice, and change.
POD Digital Media
12:45 PM EDT
More Americans tuned into racial protests than COVID-19 coverage
More Americans tuned in to TV for the racial protests this past weekend than during the first weekend of widespread shelter in-place orders (March 23), according to analysis from Samba TV. The TV tracking company analyzed cable and linear TV viewership from May 30 to May 31, when the U.S. saw protests and riots break out across major cities following George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer. About 16.6 million households watched cable news this past weekend, compared to 15.1 million in early March, Samba TV found.
When just compared to the weekend before (May 23 to 24), overall viewership was up by 116 percent. CNN and MSNBC saw the highest viewer jump with both channels increasing by 126 percent. African-American viewership more than doubled, increasing by 115 percent from the weekend prior. TV networks saw the largest spike from young audiences. Households with members between the ages of 20 to 35, saw a 100 percent spike compared to the weekend prior, while households with people between the ages of 35 to 100, saw an increase of 85 percent.
Out of the major cities that saw protests, Minneapolis, where the protests began, saw the largest increase in viewership from the weekend before with a 229 percent increase. Chicago saw a 136 percent increase, Atlanta saw a 121 percent increase and Pittsburgh saw a 116 percent increase.
10:35 AM EDT
McDonald’s issues a silent video statement
McDonald’s has long courted black customers, franchisees and restaurant employees. On Wednesday, it posted a 1-minute video to social media that begins with a list of names of George Floyd and others who have been killed. “They were all one of us,” red text reads on a yellow background. McDonald’s later says that it is donating to the National Urban League and the NAACP. The background goes from yellow to black as the line “Black lives matter” appears on the screen, followed by the McDonald’s logo.
9:05 AM EDT
Ben & Jerry’s says 'we must dismantle white supremacy'
Ben & Jerry’s bluntly addressed racial injustice this week, outlining four things it wants to see happen, including calling on President Trump and other elected officials to lead the nation’s healing. “Instead of calling for the use of aggressive tactics on protestors, the president must take the first step by disavowing white supremacists and nationalist groups that overtly support him, and by not using his Twitter feed to promote and normalize their ideas and agendas,” the brand posted. “The world is watching America’s response.”
Ben & Jerry’s has spoken out numerous times about Black Lives Matter since issuing a statement in 2016 that garnered criticism and praise. “We call ourselves a social justice company that happens to make ice cream,” Chris Miller, Ben & Jerry’s head of global activism strategy, told Ad Age earlier this year.
June 2, 2020
4:41 PM EDT
Target thinks better of turning looted store into a ‘message'
Target Chief Marketing Officer Rick Gomez was tempted to turn the boarded-up rubble of a Twin Cities store burned and looted over the weekend into a sort of marketing message. Now he’s glad he didn’t.
Speaking during the Q&A of a panel on how chief marketing officers and chief sustainability officers can work together during the virtual Sustainable Brands Conference earlier today, Gomez said his initial thought as a marketer was: “We boarded up a store in this neighborhood, let’s get a local artist in and we could make the store look better and not be an eyesore in the community.”
Then, he said Amanda Nusz, Target vice president of corporate responsibility and a co-panelist, “challenged me in a really appropriate way and said: ‘Is that really what the community needs?” Gomez said he realized the community really needs “baby formula, diapers, essentials. So I think we’re quick to want to take action, but we need to make sure we’re listening to the community and providing the solutions that are going to drive long-term progress.”
Quick and banal posts in social media, besides being meaningless, can also backfire, noted Procter & Gamble Co. Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, who pleaded for some collective understanding. “Our hearts are in the right place,” he said. “If you try, you might blow it. It might not be perfect. I think what we need to do collectively as an industry and as human beings is if somebody blows it, forgive them.”
Overall, he said, actions mean a lot more from marketers than words. “The days of my thoughts and prayers are with you as being meaningful are over. Action is what is required,” he said, “first of all what actions are you taking within your own four walls?”
4:30 PM EDT
Facebook’s $10 million commitment to racial injustice is not soothing critics
Facebook’s commitment to spend $10 million towards racial injustice efforts has not quelled its critics. The social network is still taking heat for not taking a stand against controversial posts from President Trump that promote violence, as competitor Twitter did last week.
The social network’s $10 million donation is seen as hypocritical in the eyes of critics. “If Facebook was serious then Facebook would censor the presidents inflammatory posts the same way the rest of us are censored. This is just lip service at this point,” wrote one commenter on the social network’s post on Facebook. “So how about actually punishing people for promoting/validating/glorifying any kind of hate on your platform?” reads another comment.
Facebook also updated its Facebook app social accounts to black backgrounds for Blackout Tuesday.
12:09 PM EDT
Unilever’s Seventh Generations donates to Bail Project
While countless brands have expressed sympathy with protesters in recent days, Unilever’s Seventh Generation has taken things a step further by pledging, through its charitable foundation, to donate $100,000 for The Bail Project. The move was “to ensure the safe and quick release of protestors across the nation, as well as others within our criminal justice system,” the brand said in a Facebook post late yesterday. “We recognize and validate the pain of the Black community and their right to express their frustration after our system has repeatedly failed them,” the post continued, inviting others to donate too.
10:30 AM EDT
Bank of America commits $1 billion and its support
Bank of America plans to donate $1 billion and four years of support at the local community level to help with economic and racial inequality, which CEO Brian Moynihan said have “accelerated and intensified during the global pandemic.” In a statement, he added that “We all need to do more.”
The Charlotte, N.C.-based financial giant will focus its support on health; jobs and training; small business support; and housing. Bank of America’s 90 local U.S. market presidents will help with the effort. A recent poll by Morning Consult found that 56 percent of Americans have a favorable view of brands that are supporting small businesses or retailers impacted by the recent looting.
10:30 AM EDT
Social posts go black for Blackout Tuesday
Scroll through any social feeds and you’ll see a sea of black. In support of racial injustice, people are posting black images with the hashtag #BlackOutTuesday to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. Brands, celebrities, influencers and ad agencies are taking part. Others are showing their participation in the day by staying silent on social media.
Activists are asking people and companies not to use the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter for their posts because it’s taking space away from people using the hashtag to post their stories and organizer updates.
9:30 AM EDT
Brands declare they won’t conduct business on Blackout Tuesday
Blackout Tuesday has ballooned from just a music industry form of protest. Brands like Lucky Brand, Savage x Fenty by Rhianna are declaring that they won’t be conducting any business on June 2.
June 1, 2020
There’s already a template that mocks how brands are speaking out about racism
Just like how numerous brands’ COVID-19 responses seemed to blend together, with many of the same designs and messages, so too are brands’ responses to racial injustice. Many brands are posting to social media with statements that contain bold, white lettering set against black backgrounds and peppering their language with words like “solidarity” and “support.”
Culture consultancy Have Her Back on Monday is mocking the similarities with its own sarcastic template where brands simply have to insert their names and it’s ready to go. Have Her Back was originally created by Interpublic Group employees as a movement, which then became an Interpublic-backed consultancy.
Spotify will add 8-minute, 46-second tracks of silence and more for Blackout Tuesday
Spotify is making a slew of temporary changes to its platform tomorrow in observance of Blackout Tuesday. Listeners will see a black logo and headline image on more than a dozen of its flagship podcasts, including “Today’s Top Hits” and “RapCaviar.” The company will also pause social media publication as a symbol of solidarity “that reminds us that things cannot remain status quo,” it says. Select playlists and podcasts, meanwhile, will include an 8-minute, 46-second track of silence as a solemn acknowledgment for the length of time that George Floyd was suffocated.
Additionally, the audio streaming giant says it will run ads on Spotify Free Tier that encourage users to listen to its curated playlists featuring black artists. “We are using the power of our platform to stand with black creators, amplify their voices, and accelerate meaningful conversation and long-needed change,” Spotify said in an emailed statement. “As a result, you’ll notice some changes on Spotify starting at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday.”
Starbucks says “We will not be bystanders”
Starbucks on Monday posted a three-sentence message to its social media channels that concludes "We will not be bystanders." In 2018, Starbucks came under fire after a store manager in Philadelphia called the police because two black men were sitting at a table and had yet to order. That incident led the coffee chain to come up with training on race, bias and inclusion, and it shut stores one afternoon for a discussion of the issues. And in 2015, Starbucks tried to get patrons to discuss race relations in a "Race Together" effort.
Heads of Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, Chick-fil-A, Mercedes-Benz, The Home Depot and others pledge to do their part for Atlanta
On Monday, Coca-Cola tweeted that it will be working with the Atlanta Committee for Progress and other business leaders “on concrete actions and solutions to move toward a more inclusive just society.”
James Quincey, president and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, is one of 40 other business leaders that have pledged to “do their part” for the city of Atlanta as part of the Atlanta Committee for Progress. Other leaders include: Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, Dan Cathy, chairman and CEO of Chick-fil-A, Nicholas Speeks, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA and Craig Menear, president and CEO of The Home Depot.
The details are still out on how these leaders plan to take action.
Microsoft uses social platforms to amplify black employees
On Monday, Microsoft began using its social channels to share quotes from black employees about how they’re feeling and what they’re looking for from allies during this turbulent time.
Verizon donates $10 million to social justice organizations
Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg initially fought back tears during a webcast earlier this afternoon after announcing that the company is donating $10 million to social justice organizations such as The National Urban League, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. A full list of those receiving donations can be found here.
Vestberg said Verizon “cannot commit to a brand purpose of moving the world forward unless we are committed to helping ensure we move it forward for everyone.”
“The events unfolding across the country that are rooted in hate are contradictory with our beliefs as a company and leave me with a feeling of regret and sadness,” Vestberg read from a prepared statement. “Verizon is fiercely committed to diversity and inclusion across all spectrums because it makes us and the world better. I am hopeful that the rest of the country will come to understand that valuing everyone equally is the best way forward.”
Sony postpones PlayStation 5 event due to protests
In a tweet, Sony’s PlayStation announced its decision to postpone a PlayStation 5 event, initially scheduled for June 4. The event was going to give fans a sneak peek at the games coming to PlayStation 5, which is being released this upcoming holiday season. “We do not feel that now is a time for celebration and for now, we want to stand back and allow more important voices to be heard,” read the tweet.
Music labels and musicians participate in Blackout Tuesday
Music labels and musicians are recognizing June 2 as Blackout Tuesday, a day to disconnect from work and focus efforts on connecting with their communities. Music labels around the world, including Universal Music Group, Sony Music and Interscope, and musicians like Eminem, Mick Jagger, Billie Eilish and the Wombats are posting on social media that they are participating with the hashtags #BlackoutTuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused. Interscope is taking it a step further and vowing not to release new music for the entire week.
ViacomCBS will go dark for 8 minutes and 46 seconds
ViacomCBS President of Entertainment and Youth Brands Chris McCarthy wrote in an internal memo that all entertainment and youth brands and platforms would be going dark on Monday for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the precise amount of time former police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck.
A new spot created internally will air across ViacomCBS' channels including MTV, CBS Sports, BET and Nickelodeon, at 5 pm Eastern. The spot reads “I CAN’T BREATHE” on a black background as audio plays the sound of breathing. The spot includes a call-to-action to support civil rights advocacy nonprofit Color of Change.
“While I am not a person of color and can never fully understand this experience, I am offended by the systemic racism and want to stand together with our communities of color in the hurt and pain,” wrote McCarthy in the letter. “We must all do our part—discrimination against one of us is discrimination against all of us.”
Wicked the Musical changes its hand-holding message
Universal Studios’ Wicked the Musical deleted from its social accounts an image of its two main characters holding hands with the words “When we defy hate, we defy gravity.” Earlier, comedian and influencer Franchesca Ramsey had criticized the holding hands imagery in a tweet: “Hate to tell y’all, holding hands won’t end racism.”
Contributing: Ilyse Liffreing, George Slefo, E.J. Schultz, Jeanine Poggi, Jessica Wohl, Lindsay Rittenhouse, Jack Neff, Adrianne Pasquarelli, Ann-Christine Diaz, Alexandra Jardine, I-Hsien Sherwood, Luke Guillory