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”
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.