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 a live blog tracking responses from brands, media companies and agencies as they take a stand against racism and social injustice, covering the period from July 1, 2020 to the present day.
For a full archive of entries before July 1, see “How brands and agencies responded to racial injustice in the first month following George Floyd's death”
Sept 21, 2020
9:30 AM EDT
U.K. broadcaster defends BLM dance performance with press ad
U.K. broadcaster ITV ran a press ad this weekend backing a BLM-themed performance by dance group Diversity on its show “Britain’s Got Talent,” after it received 24,000 complaints from members of the public. The complaints were rejected by the broadcast regulator Ofcom.
The ad, created in 48 hours by agency Uncommon, features an image of dancer Ashley Banjo taking the knee with the words: “We are changed by what we see. Just as we are changed when we are seen.” (The copy is a reference to an earlier TV ad by Uncommon for the broadcaster, highlighting cultural moments from its history.)
The dance performance included a recreation of the death of George Floyd, with a white performer kneeling on Banjo's neck, and dancers dressed as riot police. Many complained it was too overtly political for an entertainment show, but Ofcom ruled that its “central message was a call for social cohesion and unity.”
Sept 18, 2020
3:15 PM EDT
4A’s creates leadership program for Black professionals
The 4A’s is introducing a new program designed to help mid- and senior-level Black employees be well-positioned for leadership opportunities in an effort to help agencies create a succession plan that includes Black executives. The year-long program called Vanguard will kick off on Nov. 2 with agencies like R/GA, Leo Burnett and Initiative, among others, that have signed on to participate. Agencies will choose fellows internally to participate. Qualified candidates include Black employees who are currently in director, VP or senior VP roles. The fellows are assigned a sponsor and a mentor from within their agency.
Sept 17, 2020
6:13 PM EDT
Bud Light NFL campaign spotlights Black-owned restaurants
Bud Light is veering from its usual humorous ad tone with a program tonight on “Thursday Night Football” that promotes Black-owned restaurants. Called “Bud Light Thursday Night Shoutout,” the campaign spotlights the personal stories of business owners, beginning with an ad running on the NFL Network tonight featuring Cleveland’s Beckham's B & M Bar B Que, a family owned southern restaurant. It will run during coverage of the Browns-Bengals game. The agency is Wieden+Kennedy and the director is Jason Harper.
The brand is also partnering with food app directory EatOkra to encourage viewers to visit Black-owned businesses.
September 16, 2020
11:03 AM EDT
Jon Boyega quits Jo Malone campaign after being dropped in Chinese ad
“Star Wars” actor Jon Boyega has resigned as ambassador for the Estee Lauder-owned fragrance brand Jo Malone after he was removed from a Chinese market version of an ad he made for the brand. The campaign, which debuted in 2019, featured the Black actor visiting his childhood home in London.
As reported by the Times of London, Boyega said he understood why the firm would wish to use local actors in different regions but said that the decision to replace him with a Chinese star was made without his knowledge or consent, adding “dismissively trading out one’s culture this way is not something I can condone.”Jo Malone apologized for the Chinese ad and has removed it.
10:45 AM EDT
AICP names new Equity & Inclusion chief
Tabitha Mason-Elliott, Head of Production and Partner at Bark Bark in Atlanta, is to chair the new Equity & Inclusion Committee at AICP (the Association of Independent Commercial Producers.)
The AICP has also announced its full lineup of members, and has issued a call to counterparts on the agency side to engage in candid discussions that will inform the writing of these best practice recommendations.
“We’ve known for years that the commercial industry was exclusionary, but our industry has often hidden behind the notion of talent being the only requirement for success,” said Mason-Elliott in a statement. “Frankly, we just haven’t done enough to address the barriers to entry, or pushed ourselves to institute any lasting changes at our companies. Over the years there have been polite inquiries about change, but we’re past that point of being polite – we need action. We can’t tiptoe around this anymore.”
September 9, 2020
6:21 AM EDT
The Oscars presents new diversity rules
After years of controversy over its attitude on diversity, the Academy Awards has finally outlined how it is going to tackle the issue. As reported in The New York Times, beginning with the 2024 Oscars, films hoping to qualify for the best picture category will have to meet inclusion standards both on screen and behind the scenes. For example, “at least one of the lead actors or a significant supporting actor must be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group.”
In addition, a film must meet two of four standards in areas of onscreen representation, offscreen creative leadership, apprenticeship opportunities for members of underrepresented groups and diversity in marketing and distribution departments.
The new standards, which will be enforced by “spot checks,” are also likely to influence the advertising and production worlds; we’ll be following the developments closely.
September 8, 2020
5:40 PM EDT
EA Sports puts Colin Kaepernick back in its game
Colin Kaepernick might not have returned to real football fields yet, but he’s back in virtual ones.
Starting today, the star football quarterback who sparked a national movement, can be chosen as a player in EA Sports’ latest Madden game, Madden NFL 21, released at the end of August. EA Sports states that players can put Kaepernick at the helm of any NFL team in Franchise mode and play with him in the game’s Play Now setting.
Read more here.
5:33 PM EDT
Mondelēz sets diversity and inclusion targets
Mondelēz International laid out diversity and inclusion goals today, including plans to double the representation of Black people in its U.S. management roles by 2024. The snack maker also plans to spend $1 billion annually with minority-owned and women-owned businesses by 2024. Mondelēz is planning to appoint someone to the new role of global chief diversity and inclusion officer. “The company also plans to mobilize its consumer-facing brands and leverage its partnerships with agencies and advertising platforms to drive change, equity and inclusion,” Mondelēz stated.
In the U.S., plans include honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday and Juneteenth as a day of service. Plans also include a partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and a college scholarship program for underrepresented youth in the U.S.
11:03 AM EDT
Support in racial injustice protests is up in wake of Kenosha, Edelman survey finds
A new survey from Edelman, named “The Fight for Racial Justice in America,” reveals that American support in the Black Lives Matter protests is up following the shooting of Jacob Blake and Kenosha unrest. Edelman Chief Executive Officer Richard Edelman and Trisch Smith, global chief diversity and inclusion officer at Edelman, presented the findings Tuesday morning during the ADCOLOR Everywhere 2020 virtual conference.
Edelman says it surveyed 3,000 respondents in the general population—sampled according to age, gender and ethnicity—in two studies, one the week of August 14-21, then again after Kenosha on August 28-31. The findings of which show that 76 percent of Americans personally believe systemic racism exists in the country and 57 percent support the current nationwide protests; those figures are up five and nine points, respectively, since the shooting of Blake. Edelman found support for the protests among Republicans has grown 17 percent in the 10 days between the two surveys.
Other findings in the surveys include: 54 percent of Americans believe there has been insufficient focus in the news media on the underlying issues that sparked the current protests; 62 percent believe the news media has unfairly focused on looting and rioting instead of peaceful protests in its coverage; 44 percent believe the business community has “done very little” to address systemic racism; 52 percent believe brands “owe it to their employees” to take a stand on systemic racism; and 41 percent think corporations need to take such a stand to “attract and keep customers.”
Meanwhile, trust in employers to address systemic racism (at 71 percent) is the highest among institutions looked at to effect change; although 58 percent of Americans and 77 percent of Black Americans say they observe racism in their companies. Only 36 percent of Americans, according to the survey, say the call for racial injustice is being heard by the government.
September 3, 2020
10:45 AM EDT
New agency formed to ‘create true change’ in sports and entertainment
Quashan Lockett, most recently VP and head of human resources for experiential services agency Legends, is branching out on his own to try to effect change in the sports and entertainment industry. Lockett announced on LinkedIn that he will be forming his own agency, called Color of Sports, to do just that.
“Started as a collaboration and initiative amongst myself and a few sports industry friends in the wake of the killing of George Floyd,” Lockett wrote. “We sought out to pen a letter and develop a plan to challenge the industry to go beyond words and statements to create true change.”
He said the initiative has now transformed into “a formal agency which exists to disrupt structural inequality and create transformational change for true diversity, equity and inclusion through the power of sports and entertainment.” Lockett explained that Color of Sports will offer “a variety” of diversity, equity and inclusion services as well as pro bono work to organizations, brands and professionals in sports and entertainment.
“I am mentally stressed and exhausted by the social & racial injustice that remains prevalent in our society but I am more determined than ever to use my platform and every ounce of my skill and ability for change,” Lockett wrote. “Are you ready to break away from the status quo and rinse and repeat corporate D&I initiatives? Let’s talk.”
September 1, 2020
11:05 AM EDT
Pinterest places new global head of inclusion and diversity under executive management team
Pinterest has announced a new Global Head of Inclusion and Diversity, and is placing the role under its executive management team for the first time. The social network has hired Tyi McCray, previously the government affairs lead at Airbnb, and before, Airbnb’s diversity strategy lead, to fill the position. The role incorporates leading strategy and programming as well as building an inclusive and diverse culture within the company.
Pinterest hired its first head of diversity in 2016, but for the first time, the Global Head of Inclusion and Diversity will report directly to Ben Silbermann, Pinterest co-founder and CEO.
“We’re very excited to welcome Tyi to Pinterest. She is a proven and compassionate leader who will be a huge asset in advancing the significant work ahead of us. I look forward to working with her to build a culture where all people, regardless of their backgrounds, are treated fairly and feel valued for the unique perspectives they bring to Pinterest,” says Silbermann in a Pinterest blog post.
Hiring more diverse individuals at the executive level was one item Pinterest said it would focus on in June when it shared multiple commitments to social injustice.
10:02 AM EDT
Ben & Jerry's new podcast tackles America's long history of racial violence and discrimination
Ben & Jerry's is teaming up with the Who We Are Project to create a new podcast that will examine the legal discrimination, segregation and state-sanctioned violence Black people in America faced since the end of chattel slavery. “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism In America” begins Sept. 15 and will run for six episodes. It is produced by Vox Creative and is the first original podcast series Vox has made in partnership with a brand.
“Economic and social justice has been a part of Ben & Jerry’s mission since our founding 42 years ago,” said Jabari Paul, Ben & Jerry’s US Activism Manager in a statement. “We now sit at a critical inflection point in our nation’s history. If we are to seize the opening that this moment presents, we must be willing to acknowledge the sins of our past so that we move together toward a future of justice and equity.”
Read more here.
August 28, 2020
5:30 PM EDT
Uber tells users to delete its app if they tolerate racism
August 28 marks the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. To mark the occasion, Uber has partnered with Wieden+Kennedy on an integrated racial injustice campaign that pulls no punches: “If you tolerate racism, delete Uber,” it asserts.
Uber is delivering that message across social media, in emails, app notifications. It also features on billboards appearing in 13 major U.S. cities in support of the thousands gathering in the nation’s capital to commemorate the March on Washington or planning their own marches across the country. The outdoor signs also state, “Black people have the right to move without fear.”
Read more here.
August 26, 2020
6:51 PM EDT
NBA postpones Game 5 of Playoffs as players protest Jacob Blake shooting
The National Basketball Association and the National Basketball Players Association are postponing Game 5 of three NBA playoff series after Milwaukee Bucks players boycotted their game to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
In a press announcement and a Twitter post, the NBA says all three Wednesday games—Bucks vs. Magic, Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers—are being rescheduled.
The decision occurred about an hour after the Milwaukee Bucks decided to boycott their Wednesday night game against the Orlando Magic.
Read more here.
August 24, 2020
2:29 PM EDT
Milwaukee Bucks join Joe Biden and NFL players in speaking out against police shooting of Jacob Blake
The Milwaukee Bucks joined a growing list of sports stars, celebrities and politicians speaking out about the police shooting of a Black man in front of his children. Jacob Blake, 29, was shot multiple times in the back on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Protests broke out overnight in the area after a video began circulating on social media showing police officers firing into his back.
The incident is under investigation and the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, according to CNBC. Few details about the reason for the shooting have been released. The Wisconsin Department of Justice told CNBC that officers responded to a “domestic incident.”
On Twitter, the Milwaukee Bucks shared a statement in support of Blake, stating: “We stand firmly against reoccurring issues of excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging the black community.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden released his own statement, calling for a “full and transparent investigation.” Bleacher Report has shared several reactions from NFL players who are speaking out as well.
12:55 PM EDT
Vanity Fair covers September special issue with a portrait of Breonna Taylor
A portrait of Breonna Taylor appears on the cover of September’s Vanity Fair, a special issue titled “The Great Fire.” The September issue is guest-edited by author Ta-Nehisi Coates. The portrait of Taylor is by Amy Sherald, a Baltimore-based painter whose portrait of Michelle Obama is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
The Oprah magazine has also placed Breonna Taylor on a cover.
August 20, 2020
12:55 PM EDT
Jay-Z’s Team ROC criticizes Lamar Advertising for ‘improper censorship’ of billboard that calls out police officer
The social justice arm of Roc Nation, an entertainment company founded by rapper Jay-Z, has condemned Lamar Advertising for refusing to run a billboard calling for justice in the police killing of three Wisconsin men of color. The complaint originated earlier this week when Team ROC applied to create a billboard in Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee, demanding action be taken against Joseph Mensah, a local police officer involved in the fatal shootings of three Black and Latino men in the past five years. Lamar allegedly objected to the text of the billboard—“Justice for Alvin Cole, Jay Anderson, Antonio Gonzales / They did not deserve to die / Officer Mensah must be held accountable”—saying the message goes against its copy acceptance terms.
In an attempted compromise, Team ROC later revised the design submission to read “Police officers shouldn’t kill innocent people,” but the OOH giant again refused to create the billboard. Jordan Siev, an attorney representing Team ROC, has since sent a letter to Lamar’s legal team blasting the company for “improperly censoring Roc Nation’s speech on a matter of considerable public interest” and asking them to reconsider their objections to the Mensah ad.
—Ethan Jakob Craft
August 19, 2020
1:28 PM EDT
Pizza Hut promotes lawyer as its first chief equity officer
Pizza Hut named Chequan Lewis as its first chief equity officer. Lewis joined the pizza chain four years ago as a director on its legal team, and then led the Pizza Hut Express division as a senior director. Now, he joins the Pizza Hut U.S. leadership team to lead the Yum Brands chain’s work on “putting in place structures, processes and decision-making that create a more equitable workplace and company for our employees, franchisees, licensees, restaurant teams, customers, and communities we serve,” Pizza Hut said in a statement. Lewis, who graduated from Howard University and Harvard Law School, previously was a legal associate with Baker Botts, LLP and clerked for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Pizza Hut also announced, in partnership with First Book, an “Empowering Educators” resource collection for educators, offering ideas on creating equitable learning environments and ways to help teachers and others work on conversations about race and racism.
12:22 PM EDT
Havas appoints DE&I advisory committee
Havas announced its North American diversity, equity and inclusion advisory committee in an Instagram post. The agency says the nine-person committee “will work together to guide DE&I strategy and help us build a stronger culture.” The members all work within the Havas network, at agencies including Arnold, Havas Chicago, Republica Havas and Health4Brands, the holding company’s full-service healthcare communications network.
The committee includes Arnold and Havas Media Boston Chief Talent Officer Julianna Akuamoah; Havas New York Managing Director Elena Grasmann; Havas Media Canada VP of Client Services Lina Kim; Havas Health & You Group President Chris Morton; Havas Media New York Executive VP of Digital Strategy Sargi Mann; Republica Havas Miami Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO Jorge Plasencia; Havas Helia Chicago Managing Director and Head of Strategy Liz Roche; Health4Brands Chelsea New York Executive VP and Director of Client Services Scott Tucker; and Havas Chicago Group Creative Director Blake Winfree.
August 18, 2020
9:49 AM EDT
Diverse representation drives results according to VAB study
Diverse representation in ad campaigns drives positive business results according to a new report by the Video Advertising Bureau with more than 20 case studies examining campaigns for a range of big national and emerging brands dating as far back as 2015.
Members of the Association of National Advertisers’ Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing participated in the study, which compiled data from the campaigns. The study looked at attention, engagement, sentiment and revenue impact from various ads. The study includes recent work from Target and Samuel Adams as well as older work for Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol, Ulta Beauty, Nike and Bonobos.
9:00 AM EDT
BBDO Worldwide appoints first chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer
Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide hired Jason Rosario—the executive producer and host of Yahoo! News web series "Dear Men," which examines toxic masculinity in a post-MeToo world—as chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. A BBDO spokesperson confirmed to Ad Age that this is the first time anyone within the agency has been appointed to a C-suite DE&I role.
"Diversity is the lifeblood of this industry," Rosario says. "It says a lot for a tried-and-true agency, and surely for an iconic agency like BBDO, to bring someone like myself on. What excited me most [about the job] is this is an enterprise-wide role. This role partners with creative, learning and development, recruitment, retention ... every aspect of the agency."
Read more here.
August 13, 2020
5:20 PM EDT
Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA creates alternative to well-known racist ice cream truck jingle
Today, Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA has released a new free alternative to the jingle all ice cream trucks play as they pass by neighborhoods—“Turkey in the Straw.” The rapper, and producer explains in a video in a tweet that he was contacted by sweets vendor Good Humor to create a new, non-racist version of the childhood song.
Good Humor explains on its website why the “Turkey in the Straw” tune has such a problematic past: ‘Turkey in the Straw’s’ melody originated from British and Irish folk songs, which had no racial connotations. But the song itself was first performed (and gained popularity) in American minstrel shows in the 1800s. Some songs using its same melody contained highly offensive, racist lyrics.”
The new tune is being added to ice cream trucks starting this month, and RZA’s tweet directs people to go to the brand’s website to listen to the entire new track.
“We wanted to make a melody that includes all communities — that’s good for every driver, every kid,” RZA explains. “…And I will assure you that this one is made with love.”
11:42 AM EDT
Offer to remove hate tattoos prompts big response
As National Tattoo Removal Day nears on Friday, an offer by Removery to remove racist and hate tattoos for free appears to be generating a lot of interest. The tattoo removal firm, which operates in 35 states, says it has seen a 30 percent increase in website leads and consultation inquiries compared to the same time last year via its INK-nitiative. Removery believes the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement are inspiring people to make big changes, including removing hateful tattoos.
The chain has a buy-one, give-one model similar to those of other direct-to-consumer businesses, where every paying customer generates a free tattoo removal for someone else who qualifies. They include people who are formerly incarcerated, members of organized gangs, survivors of human trafficking or domestic abuse or anyone wishing to remove radicalized, hateful or racist tattoos.
August 11, 2020
1:00 PM EDT
New fund aims to support underrepresented content creators
StreamElements, a company that provides streaming production tools for popular streamers such as Shroud and TimTheTatman, announced a $100,000 Creator Diversity Fund. The initiative aims to provide people of color and other under represented groups with professional live streaming services.
The fund will be divided among 20 applicants worldwide who are either partners or affiliates on Twitch, with each selected member receiving the equivalent of $5,000 in graphics and services from StreamElements.
“Instead of being focused on charities, we aim to work directly with the content creators on Twitch who can benefit from customized features that mirror what the top influencers use, with customer service to match,” the company said.
— George P. Slefo
12:40 PM EDT
Teen Vogue’s August issue speaks to disenfranchised voters of color
To mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, Condé Nast’s Teen Vogue has dedicated its August issue—titled “Suffragettes”—to speaking out about voter suppression.
The issue features the personal stories of 10 young women of color in a series called “The Uncounted.” The participants—including Puerto Rican civil rights activist Aliana Margarita Bigio-Alcobo, actor and activist Yara Shahidi and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley—all advocate for equal voting rights and weigh in on the convoluted history of the 19th amendment, which really only granted voting rights to women who were white and privileged.
The other activists sharing their stories include: writer and activist Raquel Willis, actor Jessica Marie Garcia, actor Leah Lewis, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition’s Tiniesha Johnson, Native Alaskan student activist Charitie Ropati, New York City Council candidate Shahana Hanif and Black Lives Matter activist Thandiwe Abdullah.
The activists also appear on the cover of the issue in a collage created by photographers Kai Byrd and Tory Rust.
12:02 PM EDT
A Change.org petition gains traction for more inclusive hairstyles in ‘Animal Crossing’
Nintendo’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizons" allows players to customize their avatars—to an extent. Last week, Gillette Venus created more skin tones and types that players can use to tailor their characters to look more like themselves, but all types of hairstyles, like curly Black or brown hair, are still not available. A petition on Change.org, launched by 26-year-old animal shelter worker Taniesha Bracken-Hucks, sets out to change that.
“In light of what is happening in America concerning black rights, it would be amazing to have gamers of all races represented on all gaming platforms. Let's start with Animal Crossing!” reads the online petition.
“There’s a need for more inclusive hairstyles. As a long time Animal Crossing player I would love to truly have my character represent me,” writes one commenter on the petition.
The petition, first posted two months ago, now has nearly 40,000 signatures out of its 50,000 signature goal.
August 10, 2020
2:27 PM EDT
150 days after Breonna Taylor was killed by police, brands still call for justice
It’s been 150 days since Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT, was killed in her Louisville apartment by police officers executing a no-knock warrant. Only one of the officers has been fired.
Several brands are expressing that justice has not been served. At the end of last week, Oprah’s O Magazine, which put Breonna Taylor on its September cover, stated it would place 26 billboards of the cover across her hometown with a call-to-action that reads: “Demand that the police involved in killing Breonna Taylor be arrested and charged. Visit UntilFreedom.com.” The billboards also include a quote from Oprah: “If you turn a blind eye to racism, you become an accomplice to it.” Until Freedom is an organization that is focused on getting all the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death charged.
Phenomenal, a women’s lifestyle brand that aims to drive awareness for social justice issues, is raising money for the Breonna Taylor Foundation with a star-studded social campaign for its latest justice-fueled T-shirt. Celebrities like Amy Schumer, Sarah Paulson, Gabourey Sidibe, Rachel Zoe, Brianna Turner and Sue Bird are promoting a T-shirt that reads, “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.” All profits go to the Breonna Taylor Foundation.
The Women’s National Basketball Association, which has dedicated its season to Breonna Taylor and the Say Her Name movement, is also showing its support for Taylor on social media and on the court. The league shared a photo and quote from Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd wearing Breonna’s name on her jersey.
1:43 PM EDT
Adobe amplifies diverse women voices with dedicated webpage and campaign
Adobe is boosting efforts to amplify the voices of underrepresented creators, with an emphasis on women. The company has launched its own website dedicated to highlighting diverse female creators called Adobe.com Diverse Voices, and plans on giving diverse voices a larger platform.
Part of the effort includes Adobe’s work for a digital issue of T Magazine called “The 15 Creative Women for Our Time,” which features branded content from female Adobe creators.
“Creativity needs to be more accessible to, and celebrated by, every one of us—regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, gender or sexual orientation,” writes Ann Lewnes, executive vice president and chief marketing officer Adobe, in a blog post. “At Adobe, we believe it is our responsibility to give diverse voices a greater platform to share their stories, especially in this unprecedented moment.”
The effort continues Adobe’s efforts to drive change around injustice. Previously, the company donated $1 million to the Equal Justice Initiative and made Juneteenth a paid company holiday, among other efforts.
August 6, 2020
4:34 PM EDT
Golden State Warriors say voter suppression is on the rise
Today marks the 55th anniversary of the passing of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in voting. The day was marked on social media by organizations and nonprofits saying how there is still much to be done to ensure all U.S. citizens have an equal right to vote.
In a video honoring the late Congressman John Lewis, The National Basketball Association’s Golden State Warriors voiced their opinion on Twitter, saying that voter suppression is on the rise and gives a call-to-action for change. “John Lewis left the fight to protect voting rights for us to finish,” reads the video.
12:32 PM EDT
NBA contributes $300 million to new employment equality foundation
On Wednesday the National Basketball Association announced the NBA Board of Governors will launch a new foundation that aims to increase “economic opportunity and empowerment in the Black community.” The foundation will focus on helping high school, college and career-ready Black men and women with employment opportunities and career advancement.
Launched in partnership with the National Basketball Players Association, the foundation will receive a $300 million contribution from 30 NBA team owners over the next 10 years.
“On behalf of the NBA Board of Governors, I am thrilled to announce the creation of the NBA Foundation,” said NBA Board of Governors Chairman and Toronto Raptors Governor Larry Tanenbaum in an NBA blog post. “All NBA team governors recognize our unique position to effect change and we are committed to supporting and empowering young Black men and women in each of our team markets as well as communities across the U.S. and Canada.”
August 5, 2020
4:32 PM EDT
Gillette Venus adds diversity to Animal Crossing with ‘Skinclusive’ options
Gillette has long been a proponent of diversity, and it wants to make Nintendo’s Animal Crossing—one of the hottest games of the summer—even more diverse. As part of its “My Skin. My Way” campaign, Gillette’s razor and shaving products line Venus has partnered with digital designer Nicole Cuddihy to create new “Skinclusive” avatar designs for players to choose in the game.
Before, players had the option of a few different skin representations, but with Venus’ involvement, players can now build their characters from 19 different skin types and eight different skin tones. From that, more than 250 combinations can be created, and avatars can represent everyday people with freckles, acne, cellulite, scars, tattoos and underrepresented skin types like vitiligo.
To celebrate the new designs, Venus is hosting a “Skinclusive Summer Social” event in Animal Crossing on YouTube Live on August 31. Venus is working with Grey New York for creative, Townhouse/GPS for production and Carat for media.
“With Animal Crossing, we saw a unique opportunity to meet women where they are this summer by providing new ways to make gaming a more inclusive space, while also enabling them to gather virtually, safely on a beach to celebrate summer and skin inclusivity,” said Anthony van Dijk, senior brand director of Venus North America, in a statement.
1:32 PM EDT
Facebook launches ‘Black Business August’ in support of National Black Business Month
August is National Black Business Month, and Facebook is partnering with U.S. Black Chambers to host “Black Business August,” a series of free virtual training sessions and panels that aim to highlight and help Black-owned businesses succeed in uncertain times.
The effort kicks off on August 7 at 11 a.m. with a Q&A with U.S. Black Chambers CEO Ron Busby on the Instagram For Business account. Facebook has a dedicated webpage that outlines its calendar of upcoming events.
“In 2020, National Black Business Month is particularly important given the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black communities,” Facebook wrote in a blog post yesterday. “We know that even before the COVID-19 crisis, minority entrepreneurs, who own 37% of all US businesses, faced greater challenges in starting, running, and growing their companies.”
July 31, 2020
3:20 PM EDT
The Ally Internship provides job opportunities for Atlanta's Black creatives
Full-service creative agency Chemistry and Cam Kirk Studios (which is led by hip-hop photographer Cam Kirk) are partnering to create The Ally Internship, dedicated to expanding job opportunities for Atlanta’s Black creatives. The two Atlanta-based companies say they are working together to “introduce advertising, design, photography and video production as viable career paths to aspiring Black creatives” as well as “creating a new path for job placement within these fields.”
The internship will be paid and is set to begin in September. Interns will split their 40 hours a week between the studio and agency in Atlanta. Once completed, the interns will receive a panel review by Chemistry and Cam Kirk as well as have the opportunity to possibly land a job with either the agency or studio. Candidates for the internship program will be selected by Cam Kirk (the photographer) and Chemistry’s Chief Creative Officer Chris Breen.
“When we prove this approach can be successful, we’re hoping other Black-owned creative businesses and ad agencies will use our blueprint to help open up new streams to tap into Black creative talent in Atlanta,” Kirk says.
Breen adds that the “lack of diversity not only in the industry, but also within my own agency" is a “problem” in need of fixing.
Cam Kirk works with artists like 2 Chainz, Meek Mill, Wiz Khalifa and Migos as well as brands including Nike, the NBA, Puma and the MLB. Chemistry counts clients such as Netflix, Red Bull and Atlanta United. The two shops say they “are both largely influenced by the city of Atlanta” and therefore “this collaboration is a natural evolution in helping lift up the very community that has inspired them to grow and create.”
12:25 PM EDT
Twitter suspends former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke
Twitter has suspended white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, The Verge reported today. A Twitter spokesperson told The Verge that the decision falls under the platform’s “guidance on harmful links.” Duke’s account had more than 53,000 followers.
This follows Twitter suspending the accounts of several white supremacists, including Duke, last month for violating Twitter’s Hateful Conduct Policy, which prohibits promotion of hate speech and threats towards people based on race, ethnic origin or religious affiliation.
10:03 AM EDT
Google helps connect consumers with Black-owned businesses
Google has seen an explosion in searches for “Black owned businesses” in recent months, a surge that’s directly tied to the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement. The company, as a result, is giving merchants in the U.S. the option to add a Black-owned business attribute to their profile. The move will make it easier for consumers to find and support these businesses through Search and Maps, says Jewel Burks, head of Google for startups in the U.S.
“As a Black woman, entrepreneur and Googler, supporting Black-owned businesses and Black founders is my passion,” she said in a blog post, adding that it’s been “inspiring to witness so many people look for ways to invest in the Black community.”
Merchants must have a verified business profile with Google to qualify. Big picture, Google’s move is part of a broader $300 million effort to help support underrepresented entrepreneurs, provide training and assistance to Black companies and startups. On a related front, the search giant has also been making heavy investments in building out its commerce presence to better compete with Amazon.
—George P. Slefo
July 30, 2020
12:03 PM EDT
WPP releases U.S. diversity data and announces inclusion council
WPP CEO Mark Read released the holding company's U.S. staff diversity makeup data in an email to employees on Thursday and announced the appointment of an inclusion council and taskforce "to give particular focus to the challenges facing our Black colleagues and communities in North America."
This comes as an update to the holding company's previous commitment to taking "decisive action on each of the 12 points in the 'Call for Change'" open letter from 600 & Rising. Announced on Juneteenth, WPP also said at the time it would be investing $30 million over the next three years to fund inclusion programs within the holding company and support external organizations fighting racism.
Read more here.
11:38 AM EDT
Oprah honors Breonna Taylor on the cover of her magazine
A portrait of Breonna Taylor appears on the upcoming issue of O: The Oprah Magazine, a first for the joint venture between Oprah Winfrey’s production company Harpo and Hearst Magazines.
The headline on the cover reads, simply, “Breonna Taylor,” followed by “Born June 5 1992,” “Killed by police March 13 2020” and “HER LIFE MATTERS,” as well as a quote from Oprah Winfrey: “If you turn a blind eye to racism, you become an accomplice to it.”
Read more here.
9:15 AM EDT
Nestlé makes Juneteenth a company holiday in the U.S.
Nestlé announced on July 30 that starting next year, Juneteenth will be recognized as a company holiday in the United States. The Swiss food maker also announced a $1.5 million donation to the National Urban League, UNCF and other organizations.
“We are deeply concerned about social, racial and economic inequalities. We continue to work on fostering an inclusive culture at work and in our communities, particularly in the United States where the pain of racial inequity has been brought to the forefront of public awareness,” Nestlé stated.
July 29, 2020
2:30 PM EDT
The New Zealand Human Rights Commission shows people what it’s like to experience incessant racism on a daily basis
Celebrated New Zealand director and actor Taika Waititi, whose film "JoJo Rabbit” earned the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and also garnered a Best Picture nomination, lends his voice to a project by the NZ Human Rights Commission that aims to show people what it’s like to experience incessant racism on a daily basis.
A website, Voices of Racism, created by agency Clemenger BBDO, invites people to put on headphones and press a button to listen to a barrage of racist comments, all based on "micro-aggressions” experienced by real-life New Zealanders.
Read more here.
2:19 PM EDT
A new Instagram account whitewashes logos to reflect their companies' lack of diverse leadership
A new Instagram account, TrueColors.official, is filled with logos of famous brands, including adidas, Starbucks, Under Armour, Microsoft and Netflix. These versions, however, look a bit pale.
Completely devoid of color, the marks appear in white and varying shades of gray. Some almost disappear into their backgrounds entirely. The point? “What if brand logos were as white as their leadership?” reads the account description.
"True Colors" is a side project from a pair of Goodby Silverstein & Partners creatives, Copywriter Trevor Joplin and Art Director Eleanor Rask. On the account, they've already featured 21 whitewashed brand logos, accompanied by the percentage of white leaders who make up each brand's corporate board. The higher the percentage of white corporate leaders, the more the symbols fade into obscurity.
Read more here.
July 28, 2020
3:00 PM EDT
Juul hires first Black director
Juul Labs has tapped Teresa Sebastian, an executive with financial and compliance expertise, to join its board as the company seeks to reset its business and diversify its ranks.
Sebastian is chief executive officer of The Dominion Asset Group, an early-stage investment group focused on revitalizing urban areas. She will serve as an independent director and head up the closely held e-cigarette giant’s audit committee, Juul CEO K.C. Crosthwaite said Tuesday in an email to employees reviewed by Bloomberg News.
Sebastian is the first Black member of the company’s eight-person board. Juul added former Canadian Health Minister Rona Ambrose as an independent director in May, making her its first female board member.
July 27, 2020
3:00 PM EDT
Omnicom Group's John Wren finally releases workforce diversity data in staff memo
Omnicom Group Chairman-CEO John Wren released the holding company's staff diversity makeup in an internal email to employees on Monday. The executive also laid out the company's "Open 2.0" action plan "to achieve our ultimate goal: systemic equity throughout Omnicom."
According to the email, 2.7 percent of Omnicom's executive managers, 4.8 percent of its mid managers and 5.5 percent of all its professionals are Black; 7.2 percent of executive managers, 8.9 percent of mid managers and 11.1 percent of professionals are Asian; 4.9 percent of executive managers, 8.6 percent of mid managers and 10.3 percent of professionals are Hispanic; and 84.1 percent of executive managers, 74.8 percent of mid managers and 70.1 percent of all professionals are white.
Read more here.
6:32 AM EDT
Everlane accused over 'anti-Black behavior'
Everlane, the direct-to-consumer fashion brand that’s seen a meteoric rise in the past few years (it was one of Ad Age’s Hottest Brands in 2019), is the latest company to experience leadership fallout over the wave of social-justice awareness following the death of George Floyd. The brand's chief creative officer Alexandra Spunt is stepping back from her role after the company faced accusations of hypocrisy over its ethically conscious image.
According to a report by The New York Times, the company conducted an internal investigation after allegations by former employees of “anti-Black behavior” and of “selling an image to the world that did not reflect their damaging experiences inside the company.” At an all-staff meeting last week, the results were revealed, confirming many of the complaints, including that “insensitive terms were used while discussing Black models” and that leaders “used inappropriate terms when referring to people of color” and “violated employees' personal space by touching them.” Everlane said Spunt, who received “significant criticism” from staff, will be “no longer leading the creative team” and will be “transitioning” while “advising the senior leadership team as needed.”
It's just the latest in a series of moves that show corporate employees will no longer tolerate behavior they object to: Last Thursday saw Hearst Magazines President Troy Young resign a day after the Times published accounts of sexist and sexually graphic remarks he allegedly made to employees.
11:50 AM EDT
‘No Space for Jew Hate’ trends on Twitter, as pro-Jewish groups organize social media walkout
Another social media boycott is taking shape with a 48-hour “walkout” on Twitter to protest anti-Semitism. On Monday, groups that support Jewish causes called for social media users to turn off Twitter and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, because of what they considered to be an alarming rise in hate speech.
The protest started after a hip-hop artist in the U.K. posted messages to social media over the weekend that were considered anti-Semitic. The British rapper is known as Wiley, his real name is Richard Cowie, and he reportedly posted messages to Twitter and Instagram that included common tropes that discriminate against Jewish people. He reportedly compared Jewish people to the Ku Klux Klan in one of his messages. Cowie posted the messages on Twitter and then went to Instagram, where he wrote about being banned from Twitter. His activity led to his accounts being penalized on both sites.
The hashtag “No Space for Jew Hate” was trending on Twitter on Monday. The protest follows a similar action that has been ongoing against Facebook throughout July. The NAACP and ADL organized a brand boycott against Facebook to protest hate speech on the social network.
July 24, 2020
3:42 PM EDT
Work & Co. makes $1 million commitment to effecting 'real change'
Work & Co, a privately-owned digital agency based in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood, has established a $1 million fund “to support startups and organizations focused on the advancement of the Black community,” according to the company. The agency says the fund will provide strategy, design and development services in the areas of “Black economic empowerment, Black voting rights and access, and criminal justice reform.” Organizations dedicated to any one of those areas can apply for help from Work & Co on the agency's website. The fund is part of a series of actions Work & Co laid out in June that also involved a $25,000 donation to organizations supporting Black lives; a commitment to better its own outreach to a more diverse set of colleges, universities, design schools and coding bootcamps; and a audit of the agency's actions “to track how we support Black and minority-owned companies through vendor relationships.”
“Like every business, Work & Co has a responsibility to break down the structures that enable systemic racism—through hiring, donations and demanding more from the government,” Work & Co Founding Partner Gene Liebel says. “But as a technology company, we can have more leverage than that. We can use our ability to build digital products to help reset the equation and enable racial justice. Our focus is going beyond messaging to launch tools that lead to real change and accountability.”
12:05 PM EDT
On Opening Day, the Tampa Bay Rays place the focus on Black Lives Matter
The Tampa Bay Rays are celebrating the return of Major League Baseball by using social media channels to highlight racial injustice. On Twitter, the team tweeted: “Today is Opening Day, which means it’s a great day to arrest the killers of Breonna Taylor.” Taylor was shot and killed in March by Louisville police who were serving a no-knock warrant. The tweet, sent out at 8 a.m. EDT, had garnered 121,000 likes and more than 40,000 retweets and comments by 12 pm EDT.
Across its social platforms, the Tampa Bay Rays also shared a commitment of $100,000 to local organizations that fight systemic racism, and a resource guide, which includes information on the team’s $100,000 racial equity grant program and a list of businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) that the team encourages fans to support.
On Thursday night, The New York Yankees and Washington Nationals also showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement by kneeling before standing for the National Anthem, and a “BLM” logo appeared on the pitcher’s mound during the game.
July 23, 2020
9:05 AM EDT
104 firms make the cut for the ANA's first diverse supplier list
The Association of National Advertisers today released its first list of diverse suppliers covering agencies, production, promotion and research companies operating in the marketing industry. To qualify, companies had to be certified as diverse by one of the following organizations: National Minority Supplier Development Council, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Woman-Owned Small Business and tMinority Business Enterprise. The initial list includes 104 companies and can be found here.
The ANA published the list in wake of a report released in May finding that 75 percent of its members have plans in place to hire diverse suppliers for their overall organizations, but that only 40 percent strategies for marketing and advertising services.
July 22, 2020
9:05 AM EDT
Beyond Meat partners with Black basketball stars’ Social Change Fund
Beyond Meat says it is partnering with Social Change Fund, a new nonprofit, to help fight disparities in the Black community including access to nutritious food. Social Change Fund was created by Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Black executives, the plant-based food brand said. Paul, a point guard who now plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder, is a Beyond Meat investor and brand ambassador.
In a statement, Beyond Meat Founder and CEO Ethan Brown said the company is “excited to support and work with the Social Change Fund initiative to address racial inequalities in nutrition access and health outcomes in America.”
6:45 AM EDT
Facebook examines racial bias with new 'equity and inclusion team'
Facebook has formed a new “equity and inclusion team” at Instagram that will examine how Black, Hispanic and other minority users in the U.S. are affected by the company’s algorithms, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. The company is also set to do the same for Facebook, and as the Journal points out, it’s a departure from the social network's previous approach to exploring how its platforms affect different minority groups.
Meanwhile, as the discussion around systemic racism grows, Ad Age is holding an industry Town Hall next month to address the topic. Three months since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers, Ad Age will bring together Black business leaders to assess the progress being made and the next steps that need to be taken to end racial injustice. You can register here for the event on August 19; attendees are invited to submit questions when RSVP’ing.
July 17, 2020
2:05 PM EDT
Weber Shandwick releases diversity data of U.S. staff
Today, Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned PR network Weber Shandwick released the diversity breakdown of its U.S. staff.
According to the company, 2.5 percent of its executive VPs or higher are Black or African American; 1.2 percent are Hispanic or Latinx; 6.2 percent are Asian; 1.2 percent are of two or more races; and 88.9 percent are white. Weber Shandwick reports that 4.1 percent of its senior VPs or VPs are Black or African American; 3.3 percent are Hispanic or Latinx; 5.5 percent are Asian; 2.4 percent are of two or more races; and 84.7 percent are white.
The PR firm reports that 5.6 percent of all of its professionals are Black or African American; 7 percent are Hispanic or Latinx; 9.2 percent are Asian; 0.3 percent are Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; 2.9 percent are of two or more races; and 75 percent are white.
“While diversity, equity and inclusion are core values we uphold at Weber Shandwick, the headline–on every level–is that people of color are grossly underrepresented in our agency,” Weber Shandwick said in a statement. “This data shows that our values simply aren’t reflected in the make-up of our workforce. We have to do better.”
In June, IPG became the first company to release such data following 600&Rising’s “Call to Action” open letter urging agencies to publicly report the diversity data of their workforces and commit to do better.
10:11 AM EDT
WFA joins broader industry effort in call to end ‘blacklists’
The World Federation of Advertisers is calling on the ad industry to cease using the terms “blacklist” and “whitelist” because they perpetuate biases, according to an open letter from Stephan Loerke, CEO of trade group.
“While we assume that there wasn’t any negative intent in the creation of these terms, we have to acknowledge they are wrong to use in the biases they perpetuate and the pain – conscious and unconscious – they cause,” Loerke wrote.
The WFA recommends using “inclusion” and “exclusion” lists as substitutes and that marketers update operating documents between both internally and with partners. Loerke also suggests reviewing exclusion lists “to ensure they do not contain broad and generic words which might accidentally defund positive coverage of minority communities” and to add more diverse media properties to so-called inclusion lists.
The WFA says it worked with GroupM, the Advertiser Protection Bureau and the American Association of Advertising Agencies on the proposal.
— George P. Slefo
July 16, 2020
4:54 PM EDT
Caress wraps arms around Black-owned businesses hit hard by COVID-19
Research by the University of California Santa Cruz found the number of Black-owned businesses declined 41 percent between February and April as they became disproportionate victims of the pandemic and related lockdowns. Now Unilever’s Caress is trying to address the problem by committing $1 million to IFundWomen of Color to support business coaching for women of color entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Caress is a founding partner of IFWOC, which was launched at the Women’s March in New York City this spring. IFWOC says that while women of color account for 89 percent of new businesses started by women in the U.S., fewer than 1 percent of them receive venture funding and 90 percent were likely denied Paycheck Protection Program loans because financial institutions preferred pre-existing customers.
Caress, identified last year by Unilever CEO Alan Jope as one of the company brands that needs to find a purpose or risk ultimate divestiture, now appears to have found one.
4:33 PM EDT
VSCO celebrates Black triumphs in new user-generated campaign
Photo editing and sharing app VSCO is highlighting success stories of Black individuals and communities in its new summer-long campaign called #BlackJoyMatters. Black creatives are encouraged to submit first-person videos, photos and art that reflect on achievements using the hashtag. VSCO will then amplify these voices across its social channels, in the Discover section of its app and through various media and brand partners.
“Black people don't just deserve to be alive — we also deserve to be happy,” writes Shavone Charles, director of communications and creative partnerships at VSCO, in a blog post. “We deserve to celebrate and be celebrated for the spectrum of our experiences and stories -- there is joy and resilience beyond our trauma. Now more than ever, we need the world to see, celebrate and archive Black Joy.”
July 15, 2020
12:20 PM EDT
Old Navy features activists in new spot
Old Navy is known for its singsong commercials featuring products and promotions. But a new spot goes in a different direction for the Gap Inc.-owned brand. Old Navy recently tapped five activists, including Marley Dias, a 15-year-old feminist and author of #100BlackGirlBooks and Ja’Mal Green, a civil rights advocate in Chicago, for a new 30-second commercial called “We are We.” In the spot, which will run on TV and in digital channels, Dias narrates a poem. “Here we are, a nation divided, red, blue, 16 percent undecided,” she says in the video, which closes with the words, “There’s a world of possibility that can’t exist with you versus me. It will take work, that’s indisputable, but, oh man, it could be beautiful—this world where we are we.” Created by the Martin Agency, the spot also includes Sara Mora, an immigrant rights activist and co-founder of Women’s March Youth Empower, Dawn Bozeman, a community activist for racial equality in Dunlap, IL, and Sharene Wood, a Harlem-based Black Women for Black Girls board member.
10:15 AM EDT
CBS TV Studios strikes deal with NAACP to create content
CBS TV Studios and the NAACP reached an agreement to develop and produce unscripted and documentary content for TV and streaming platforms. CBS will work with the civil rights organization to establish a team of executives and infrastructure to acquire, develop and produce programming that expands the number of diverse voices and tells inclusive stories.
“In this moment of national awakening, the time has never been better to further tell stories of the African American experience,” said Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP. “Programming and content have the power to shape perspectives and drive conversations around critical issues. This partnership with CBS allows us to bring compelling and important content to a broad audience.”
9:02 AM EDT
NBA, Papa John’s get top scores among Black Lives Matter ads
The NBA and Papa John’s have had the best scoring Black Lives Matter ads to date among viewers, according to testing firm Ace Metrix. While prior racial justice ads in early June had fairly mixed results, the firm found a more recent crop, many of them shown during the BET Awards on June 28, performed better and well above the norm of 544 for an Ace Score.
One key takeaway for all culturally relevant topics, including COVID-19, Pride or BLM, “is that consumers don’t want to simply be lectured to by brands,” according to Ace Metrix. “They want to know what brands themselves are doing to make a difference.”
Even so, the NBA’s 60-second “The Truth Is #BlackLivesMatter” was the league’s highest-scoring ad ever (691), driven by a high likeability score (727), but with verbatim responses indicating people weren’t sure what the NBA was doing to address problems identified.
Papa John’s, with an ad from Camp + King, San Francisco, got a 685 score with a product-focused ad that contrasted with the “purpose-driven” stances of most BLM ads. It focused on pizza delivery, but also mentioned the brand’s charitable contributions toward fighting racial injustice, with 70 percent of viewers reporting increased purchase intent, well above the 57 percent norm for quick-service restaurants.
July 14, 2020
12:35 PM EDT
Verizon announces ambitious job training program
Verizon today launched “Citizen Verizon,” an ambitious effort that aims to prepare 500,000 low-skill workers, mostly minorities, for jobs of the future by 2030. The wireless carrier also plans to reduce its carbon footprint by investing in renewable energy by 2035; and will provide 10 million underserved youths with digital skills training to “thrive in a modern economy.”
“Citizen Verizon is our stake in the ground,” Kristin McHugh, head of brand development at Verizon, told Ad Age. “We want to make sure we are invoking the feeling of a citizen and not just some big company.”
McHugh says the need to enable low skill workers with digital skills is profound. In May, for instance, congress drafted the Skills Renewal Act, which provides $4,000 in tax credits for people seeking training in technical fields. The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated the replacement of workers with machines at checkouts and banks across the country.
Citizen Verizon is part of a broader effort by CEO Hans Vestberg, who has significantly upped the wireless carrier’s corporate responsibility game since taking the helm in 2018. In May, the company was ranked No. 1 by Forbes in its “Corporate Responders.” And last month, Verizon said it would donate $10 million to various social justice organizations such as the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and the National Urban League.
—George P. Slefo
11:45 AM EDT
Skittles partners with Todrick Hall to show that its support of the Black trans community extends beyond Pride Month
It’s far too often that brands will celebrate Pride month and then be silent for the rest of the year. Skittles wants to prove that it’s not that kind of brand. The candy has partnered with influencer Todrick Hall to donate $100,000 to the National Black Trans Advocacy Coalition.
Hall posted to his 1.8 million Instagram followers about the donation. “Most brands think that Pride only lasts for the month of June. I’m proud to partner with Skittles to show that Pride lasts all year long and that my Black LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters deserve visibility and support beyond just June,” he writes in his Instagram post.
During Pride Month this year, Skittles recognized the LGBTQ+ community by removing the rainbow from its packaging and making a $100,000 donation to GLAAD.
July 13, 2020
4:05 PM EDT
CBS allocates 25 percent of script budget to projects from people of color
Today CBS announced it will make sure its programming is more reflective of viewers’ true diversity with a new commitment towards developing projects and a goal to expand the diversity of its writers’ rooms. Beginning with the 2021-2022 season, the network will allocate 25 percent of its script development budget to projects created or co-created by from Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). At the same time, CBS has set a goal to staff its writers’ rooms with 40 percent BIPOC, and a goal to increase that representation to 50 percent by the 2022-2023 season. The network said it has already added additional BIPOC writers on select shows for the 2020-2021 season.
“While steady progress has been made in recent years both in front of and behind the camera, change needs to happen faster, especially with creators and leadership roles on the shows,” said George Cheeks, president and CEO for the CBS Entertainment Group in a statement. “As a network with ambitions to be a unifier and an agent of change at this important time, these new initiatives will help accelerate efforts to broaden our storytelling and make CBS programming even more diverse and inclusive.”
1:10 PM EDT
NBA’s Toronto Raptors roll out Black Lives Matter buses
The Toronto Raptors are practicing in Florida until the season resumes on July 30, and the team is riding around in style in large black team buses with “Black Lives Matter” spelled out in bold block letters across the windows.
The team is seeing a lot of praise for the move. Their tweet from the end of last week, which shows the buses and reads: “Silence is not an option,” has received nearly 100,000 likes, 20,000 retweets and 900 comments.
10:45 AM EDT
Denver Ad School urges agencies to contribute to new Black student education fund
Denver Ad School (DAD) is calling on agencies in its state of Colorado—including CPB and TDA Boulder—to invest in a scholarship fund it set up to “create a consistent pipeline of local, diverse portfolio school-trained talent that feeds into a market in desperate need of the stories, skills and influence of Black voices.”
“Our industry has a real diversity problem,” DAD wrote in a statement. “But change can start here in Colorado.”
DAD said the idea came about because, “Basically, we’re tired of the excuses agencies have in regards to hiring Black talent”—namely, that agencies don’t know where to recruit Black talent.
The school is asking agencies to contribute $8,000 toward the fund, called the Black Creativity Matters, and said it will then match that amount to cover the full $16,000 tuition cost for a Black student. DAD also noted that should an agency choose to give more, it will still match that amount “100 percent.”
DAD wrote, “For every agency that contributes, that’s one Black student that can get a free advertising education.” The school took a jab at “the big agencies,” noting how while they “share their empty platitudes on social media, we can lead with real action. This is our chance to put Colorado on a national stage and show industry peers and future creatives that our state is a welcome and nurturing space for Black creativity,” DAD said. According to DAD, the fund already garnered $160,000 and therefore paying for the education of 10 Black students so far.
10:32 AM EDT
NFL’s Washington Redskins officially announces it will change name and logo
This morning, the Washington Redskins officially announced it would change its name and logo after weeks of pressure to do so following the death of George Floyd and increased awareness of racial injustice issues. The team’s name has long been considered a slur against Native Americans. The team did not announce what its new name or logo will be yet.
Redskins head coach Ron Rivera told The Washington Post that he was working with Redskins team owner Daniel Snyder on a name that would honor the military and Native Americans. The announcement comes after the team faced pressure from several corporate sponsors like FedEx, which has naming rights to their stadium, while Nike, Amazon, Walmart and Target dropped Redskins merchandise.
July 10, 2020
3:15 PM EDT
The BrandLab gets 45 Midwestern agencies to commit to releasing their diversity makeup
Inspired by the 600 & Rising #CommitToChange movement, nonprofit The BrandLab is calling on agencies in Kansas City and Minnesota’s Twin Cities to release their staffing diversity within the next week—and 45 agencies have already made the pledge to do so. The Minneapolis-based BrandLab’s mission is to create “a marketing industry that thrives on the insights and creativity of people with diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.” As recommended by newly launched nonprofit 600 & Rising, which is backed by the 4A’s, The BrandLab says it urges these agencies to report data on gender, race/ethnicity, seniority and department.
The BrandLab is also asking each agency to make three commitments: “a three-year financial commitment that helps partners and The BrandLab work harder on its mission; a commitment to offering high-quality internships and anti-racism education; and a commitment to internal change and evolution to create safe, tolerant, open and positive environments for everyone.”
The agencies that signed onto the pledge include Barkley, Bernstein-Rein, Carmichael Lynch, Colle McVoy, Fallon, Haberman, ICF Next, Mono, Preston Kelly and Wunderman Thompson, among others.
“We know that measurement is not the only action that must be taken,” The BrandLab CEO Ellen Walthour said in a statement. “But what gets measured gets done. By publicly sharing this information, agencies are committing to doing better and the industry is using its power to influence a new future.”
12:54 PM EDT
Backlash against Goya Foods grows after its CEO’s comments about President Trump
Goya Foods faces a boycott from prominent Latinx Americans and others upset after hearing comments made by the food company’s CEO, Bob Unanue, outside the White House on Thursday. Unanue, speaking about his company’s food donation plans, said the United States is “blessed” to have a leader like President Donald Trump, who looked on from a nearby podium. “We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder,” Unanue said.
Goya, which calls itself America’s largest Hispanic-owned food company, now faces angry comments from people including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jose Andres, Julián Castro and others upset to hear its leader praising Trump, who has spoken out against immigrants from Latin America. The hashtags #Goyaway and #BoycottGoya were among those used by people saying that they no longer plan to buy its beans and other products. On Friday, #BuyGoya was trending on Twitter as Trump supporters said they would buy from the brand, while others said that many who approve of the president wouldn’t #BuyGoya.
Goya Foods has not yet commented on the matter. On Friday morning, it tweeted about its corporate giving, saying “Goya continues to work for the prosperity & education of our country! #GOYAGIVES two million pounds of food to food banks across the nation who are in desperate need of food for families impacted by COVID19.”
12:25 PM EDT
Derek Jeter’s The Players’ Tribune features athletes speaking out against racial injustice in new video
Today, Derek Jeter’s media company The Players’ Tribune published a new 7-minute video that features European professional athletes sharing their thoughts on racial injustice and experiences with racism. Shot entirely in black and white, interviews with professional soccer players are mingled in with photos of protests following the death of George Floyd.
“The first thing is, you’re not born racist,” says Belgian professional soccer player Romelu Lukaku, who kicks off the video. “You’re not born racist. It’s out there. It’s out there.”
“Is it not normal to be a Black guy in the world?” says Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly. “It’s perfectly normal.” “People don’t love you. For everything you do in your life, they don’t love you.”
“I would describe it as someone always trying to make you feel less than what you know you are,” says Eni Aluko, the director of women's soccer at soccer club Aston Villa and a former professional player.
July 9, 2020
5:49 PM EDT
Facebook bans 'white nationalism' and promises new civil rights hire to meet boycott demands
Facebook has announced stricter rules against promoting white nationalism and promised to appoint an executive with experience in civil rights as part of a new slate of solutions the social network hopes will appease organizers of an ad boycott.
On Thursday, Facebook released a new framework that addresses the 10 demands of civil rights organizations to tackle disinformation and hate speech. The civil rights groups, including the NAACP, Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change, formed a coalition called Stop Hate for Profit that is running an ad boycott against Facebook throughout July.
Read more here.
4:44 AM EDT
London's Piccadilly Lights billboard showcases powerful images from Black Lives Matter marches
The Piccadilly Lights, the iconic central London billboard, is devoting its space to a powerful compilation of photographs, famous quotations and signs carried in Black Lives Matter marches this summer.
The Lights, which are operated by Ocean Outdoor on behalf of Landsec, will feature photography by Misan Harriman of diversity-focused organziation What We Seee, captured at recent Black Lives Matter marches in London.
Read more here.
July 8, 2020
5:25 PM EDT
Ogilvy partner highlights 100 Black changemakers in new digital book
The disproportionately low number of Black individuals in the workforce and in positions of power has long been a stain within American companies. Many executives are now coming forward with pledges promising change. A new digital book and website called “blacklist100” hopes to be the first place they look to be inspired.
The book comes from Kai D. Wright, an author, partner at Ogilvy, and Columbia University lecturer. In its 170 pages, he showcases 100 Black professionals and organizations representing role models and thought leaders across multiple industries.
In a LinkedIn post describing the project, Wright writes that it took three weeks to develop the website (www.blacklist100.com), profile the 100 changemakers and complete the book, which includes artwork from Harlem-based painter & visual artist Elizabeth Colomba.
Marketing, communication and design is one category the book touches on. Among the professionals profiled are Netflix’s new CMO Bozoma Saint John; Omar Johnson, founder at agency Opus United and former CMO at Beats by Dr. Dre; Christena J. Pyle, executive director of Time’s Up Advertising; and Maverick Carter, who just founded a new media company, SpringHill, with LeBron James.
“Whatever your business need, these 100 experts represent a starting point for action,” writes Wright in the book. “Use this guide regularly as go-to-resource, join the online blacklist100 community, and keep telling others about Black talent on your radar.”
The idea for the book originated from Wright’s open letter on race he posted to LinkedIn the week following George Floyd, in which he details his experience as a Black professional in the industry and calls on businesses to do better when it comes to hiring, retaining and promoting Black talent. The book is the launchpad to a virtual community that will offer virtual events, forums and networking starting this month.
4:35 PM EDT
Call of Duty’s ‘OK’ gesture removed amid hate symbol concerns
An “OK” gesture used in “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” has been removed amid concerns it was being used as a hate symbol, reports The Independent today. Players in the multiplayer shooter game had used the gesture to celebrate the end of a successful match, but it has a history of being used by white supremacists. It has been replaced with a different emote called “crush.”
Neither the game developer Infinity Ward or parent company Activision confirmed the reason for its removal to The Independent, but on June 6, Infinity Ward announced on Twitter that it would make moves to combat any racism in the game. “There is no place for racist content in our game,” read the developer’s tweet. “This is an effort we began with launch and we need to do a better job. We’re issuing thousands of daily bans of racist and hate-oriented names. But we know we have to do more.”
3:45 PM EDT
NBCUniversal pledges a workforce made up of 50 percent people of color and 50 percent women
Cesar Conde, the new chairman at NBCUniversal News Group, pledged in a memo to staff on Tuesday, that the company would work towards having a workforce made up of 50 percent of people of color and 50 percent women. Conde states that the initiative is called the “Fifty Percent Challenge Initiative.” The memo did not state at which point NBCUniversal hopes to achieve the goal.
According to the memo, NBC News Group’s current employee base is “26.5 percent diverse,” made up of 8 percent Black, 8 percent Hispanic and 8 percent Asian. It is also “nearly 50 percent women,” reads the memo.
“As a news organization focused on the future, we will not wait for that change to happen and then simply react,” wrote the chairman, who replaced former chairman Andy Lack. “Instead, we will lead.”
12:44 PM EDT
DoorDash will match loans for Black-owned businesses in pact with Kiva
DoorDash laid out a variety of plans to support of Black-owned businesses, including seeding a revolving loan fund starting at $150,000 to match loans for Black-owned, U.S.-based restaurants approved for loans by Kiva, an online money lender. The move comes after DoorDash says it saw a sharp rise in the frequency of searches for Black-owned businesses in June versus May. Now, DoorDash and Caviar are both highlighting Black-owned restaurants in their apps and waiving delivery fees on those Black-owned businesses that participate in the company’s program through the end of 2020. And DoorDash says independent Black-owned restaurants can pay zero commissions for 30 days when they sign up for DoorDash and Caviar this year.
July 7, 2020
3:32 PM EDT
GroupM launches its first catalogue of Black and Hispanic publishers for clients
WPP-owned media agency GroupM has created a catalogue of more than 300 Black and Hispanic publishers for U.S. clients. The effort is being called “The GroupM Multicultural Marketplace” and aims to provide clients a comprehensive list of publishers that specifically cater to Black and Hispanic audiences or are Black and Hispanic-owned. GroupM was already working with the publishers included in the list, but the singular, curated list allows clients to easily discover the publishers. From this list, clients can choose to place their investment programmatically, directly, or at scale.
“The GroupM Multicultural Marketplace is our mechanic to achieve greater equity, while supporting the voices, content and editorial written for, by and/or owned by these communities,” says Susan Schiekofer, chief digital investment officer at GroupM, in a statement.
3:16 PM EDT
Black filmmakers launch 'Change the Lens' pledge calling for 15 percent representation in production
A group of more than 100 Black filmmakers, including Park Pictures’ Savanah Leaf and Prettybird’s Calmatic, has teamed up to launch Change the Lens, a new initiative calling for 15 percent African American representation at all levels of production.
Change the Lens is backed by the Black Filmmakers Collective, a group founded by Park Pictures director Leaf and Alli Maxwell, executive producer at Pulse Films. The initiative asks creative companies to commit to increasing the diversity of their department heads and crew, at all levels and more, to reflect 15 percent Black representation. It also asks production and talent agencies to consult a head of diversity and inclusion to mediate and oversee the diversity pledge.
Read more here.
5:55 AM EDT
Colin Kaepernick signs deal with Disney for stories about race, social injustice and equity
The Walt Disney Co. signed a deal with Colin Kaepernick's production company, Ra Vision Media. "Under terms of the pact, announced Monday, Disney and Ra Vision will emphasize scripted and unscripted stories that deal with race, social injustice and the quest for equity, and work to showcase directors and producers of color," Variety reports.
Kaepernick is the former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers who rose to new prominence protesting police brutality. The activist announced his new Disney partnership on Twitter on Monday: "I am excited for this partnership with Disney across all of its platforms to elevate Black and Brown directors, creators, storytellers & producers. I look forward to sharing culturally impactful and inspiring projects," Kaepernick tweeted.
Joining the roster of Disney talent does not appear as if it will blunt Kaepernick's frankness. On July 4, he drew attention on Twitter by calling Independence Day a "celebration of white supremacy."
July 2, 2020
12:18 PM EDT
Periscope's entire agency walks off, forcing apology from parent company Quad
After more than a dozen employees at Minneapolis-based Periscope walked off yesterday to protest parent company Quad/Graphics’ response to its efforts to address the country’s current racial strife, the rest of the agency has joined them.
Today, Periscope released a “Declaration of Independence” which announces that the remaining members of the agency are "walking off in solidarity," as "we no longer have confidence in our interim President’s ability to lead our agency and represent our values.”
According to Periscope Group Strategy Director and 600&Rising President Nathan Young, one of the staffers who walked out yesterday, the agency had an all-hands meeting last night that lasted for about three hours. At the beginning of the meeting, Quad CEO Joel Quadracci addressed the group and gave what Young says was a very “corporate non-apology."
Read more here.
10:30 AM EDT
Investors urge Nike, PepsiCo, FedEx to sever links with Washington Redskins
Investors are reportedly urging Nike, PepsiCo and FedEx to cut ties with the Washington Redskins to pressure the National Football League franchise into changing its controversial nickname.
Adweek reported on Wednesday that 87 investment firms and shareholders, worth a combined $620 billion, sent letters to the three sponsorship giants calling on them to sever links with the Redskins unless the team adopts a more appropriate moniker.
While calls to rid the franchise of its offensive name have been around for years, the pressure has intensified amid the current social and political climate following the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota. This is the first time protestors have targeted the team’s sponsors.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has always held his ground, insisting he won’t change the team’s nickname, which has been used since 1933. But in a Washington Post article on Wednesday, D.C. Deputy Mayor John Falcicchio said the name would prevent the team (which plays in Maryland) from coming back to the city. "There is no viable path, locally or federally, for the Washington football team to return to Washington, D.C., without first changing the team name," he said.
July 1, 2020
4:56 PM EDT
Pernod Ricard plans app to identify social media hate speech
Liquor marketer Pernod Ricard’s U.S. division today confirmed it will pause all social media spending for the next 30 days. But the company—whose brands include Absolut Vodka and Jameson Irish Whiskey—says it is taking its boycott further by creating an app that consumers can use to identify hate speech on social media.
The app will allow users to flag objectionable content directly to brands and companies, and then “brands can then leverage their influence to help ensure social media platforms take appropriate action,” according to a press release.
Read more here.
4:14 PM EDT
Periscope employees walk out to protest parent company Quad/Graphics' response to racial injustice
Nathan Young, group strategy director at Minneapolis-based Periscope and co-founder of 600&Rising, announced this morning on Twitter that he and the three other Black employees at the agency, as well as one LGBTQ ally, have walked off their jobs in protest over parent company Quad/Graphics' actions regarding social justice in recent weeks. By the afternoon, at least eight others have joined them.
Young and his colleagues’ complaint centers largely around what Young says was Quad’s aversion to using the phrase “Black Lives Matter” in messages addressing the current unrest. He also takes issue with how the company failed to fully disclose accurate diversity data in response to “Commit to Change,” the initiative that 600&Rising introduced last month in an effort to get the industry to be more transparent with staff and leadership numbers with regard to employees of color.
Read more here.
10:03 AM EDT
Arthur Sadoun reveals Publicis Groupe's U.S. diversity makeup in leaked memo
Publicis Groupe CEO-Chairman Arthur Sadoun released the French holding company's diversity makeup for the U.S. in a leaked internal memo on Wednesday.
According to the memo, 5.4 percent of all of Publicis' U.S. employees are Black; 1.9 percent of senior leaders are Black; 4.6 percent of mid-level employees in the U.S. are Black; and 8 percent of entry-level employees are Black.
Sadoun also said Publicis would be committing 45 million euros ($50 million) over three years on diversity, inclusion and social justice efforts.
Read more here.