Brands and the Black Lives Matter Movement
The Black Lives Matter Movement has reached all corners of Australia in protest for anti-racism and refugee rights. Tens of thousands of Australians have marched around the country to stop systematic racism and violent police practices. It is no question that this is a topic that people are passionate about as the nation saw protests proceed despite COVID-19 concerns.
Along with people taking to the streets, the movement has dominated social media in an effort to bring light to the matter. From Black Out Tuesday to the endless Instagram shares educating others, the movement has already had a significant impact.
In what some see as meeting the expectations of consumers and others view as genuinely making the effort to do better, high profile brands have had their input. Although positivity is at the forefront, the majority of brands have received backlash and have been forced to reevaluate their past actions.
There is also the question of whether brands are hopping on the bandwagon to portray a positive image or being genuinely committed to doing work behind the scenes? Many deem posting on social media the “easy way out” and insincere unless the ground work such as signing petitions, donating to charities and joining the crowds in protest is done.
One of Australia’s leading active wear brands P.E. Nation received backlash after addressing the Black Lives Matter movement in an Instagram post, calling for “equality”. The term “Black Lives Matter” or referrals to the hardship the black or indigenous communities throughout the world face, however, was not mentioned, leaving some to deem the post as “lazy PR”.
L’Oréal, one of the world’s leading beauty brands showed support with an on brand Instagram post aligning with their iconic slogan “Speaking Out is Worth it”. In doing so, they were forced to reflect on their past behaviour as former L’Oréal model Munroe Bergdorf, the brands first transgender model, explained how the brand cut ties with her after she spoke out about the racism evident at the Charlottesville Unite the Rights Rally in 2017. L’Oréal also committed to supporting the NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) although their exact commitments have yet to be outlined.
Until September 2019, global high fashion brand Zimmerman distributed a memo for all female employees outlining requirements for their appearance, which meant it was more difficult for black employees to wear their hair naturally. A former intern of the brand outlined how black employees were also unable to attend certain fashion shows as they “didn’t understand the brand”.
In other cases, brands have demonstrated the proactive measures they are taking to ensure the voices of the Black Community are heard.
The Iconic posted a simple Instagram Post that addressed the issue first hand and encouraged people to comment on how their employees and followers of the brand could educate themselves on the inequality demonstrated globally. They were flooded with messages of support.
Voted Australia’s most trusted brand for 2020, Band Aid released a more diverse collection of band aids to match the colour tone of all people’s skin. Notably, Band Aid took action before ever making a public statement.
After the #PullUpOrShutUp hashtag went viral, Adidas reevaluated their internal processes and pledged to donate $120m to Black Communities across the United States while also filling 30% of its job openings with Black or Hispanic applicants.
It was initially questioned whether brands should comment at all as most were slammed for hypocrisy or using the cause for personal gain. After analyzing those that have demonstrated positive change, it is evident the priority for consumers it to see brands putting in the work and taking action without the need for words of affirmation. They should WANT to do better, always.
By Sarah Meenan – PR/Influencer Coordinator at InsideOut PR and #AsSeenOn