Major Brands Condemn George Floyd’s Death | Supports Black Lives Matter
- Major brands released various statements condemning racism and voicing their support for protesters.
- The protests intensified across the U.S after the death of Geroge Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on 25th May.
Following a long history of Black Americans losing their lives in police custody, the death of George Floyd has sparked nationwide protests and civil unrest.
Why it matters: Even the brands that remained silent against social injustice, such as ad agencies or marketing professionals have raised their voice in the Trump era to fill the void created by the government.
Driving the news: Brands like Twitter changed their official display image as a part of the change. Other brands like Google, YouTube, Disney, Netflix, Amazon followed the suit.
However, the brand’s support has received mixed reactions of praise and criticism. Supports that include tangible steps to action like donation or building up of links and resources with statements are welcome to combat racism. However, generic statements that lacked depth are being accused of commercializing the tragedy.
L’oreal drew criticism from British model and activist Munroe Bergdorf, who claimed that she was previously dropped out from a campaign for speaking on racism.
Facebook donated $10 million but received backlash from critics. Social media is still taking heat for not taking a stand against the controversial post of President Trump that promoted violence, unlike the competitor Twitter.
One commenter wrote on the Facebook social media post, “If Facebook was serious then Facebook would censor the president’s inflammatory posts the same way the rest of us are censored. This is just lip service at this point.”
Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout over the issue and one employee, software engineer Timothy Aveni, wrote on LinkedIn about why he’s leaving the company altogether.
How have brands and media companies shown solidarity: They took to social media to support the Black Lives Matter movement using a set of hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #JusticeForFloyd.
- Social posts go black for Blackout Tuesday
Scroll through any social feeds on Tuesday, June 2 and there will be a sea of black images on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other platforms with the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday. Brands, celebrities, ad agencies, influencers are participating in support of racial injustice.
Sony postponed a PlayStation 5 event to give fans a sneak peek at the games in a tweet. On the other hand, prominent music labels and musicians participated in Blackout Tuesday with hashtags – #BlackoutTuesday and #TheShowMustBePaused. Others are participating by staying silent on social media.
In solidarity with the Black community, our employees, our friends, our families, and our colleagues across industries we are proud to take part in #BlackoutTuesday.
Savage X Fenty will NOT be conducting any business on Tuesday, June 2 – globally.
— Savage X Fenty by Rihanna (@SavageXFenty) June 2, 2020
— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) June 2, 2020
On Tuesday, June 2nd, Lucky Brand will observe “Black Out Tuesday.” We will be closed for Business. This is not a day off. We have work to do. #BlackOutTuesday #BlackLivesMatter #LuckyTogether pic.twitter.com/CWLCo5SI15
— Lucky Brand (@LuckyBrand) June 2, 2020
Interscope vowed not to release new music for the entire week.
— interscope (@Interscope) May 31, 2020
- Other Brands
Bank of America: It plans to donate $1 billion and four years of support at the local community level to help with economic and racial inequality which has intensified in the pandemic. In a statement, CEO Brian Moynihan, “We all need to do more.”
The financial giant will focus on health, training, small business support, and housing with the help of Bank of America’s 90 local U.S. market presidents.
Verizon: Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg initially fought back tears during a webcast and pledged $10 million to social justice organizations. A full list of those receiving donations can be found here.
"We have the responsibility as a large corporation to do right in these times. We cannot commit to the brand purpose of moving the world forward unless we're committed to helping ensure we move forward for everyone." –@HansVestberghttps://t.co/fHH4TWe52g pic.twitter.com/9wGIjhwBgw
— Verizon (@Verizon) June 1, 2020
Ben and Jerry : This brand has been consistently conscientious. The ice-cream maker has previously also taken a stand in response to Ferguson unrest.
4 years ago, in the wake of Ferguson, we felt compelled to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement. We’re heartbroken those words are just as relevant today. These racist and brutal attacks against our Black brothers and sisters must end. #JusticeForFloyd https://t.co/7ngefmtqnu
— Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) May 27, 2020
Starbucks: In 2018, Starbucks came into limelight after a store manager called the police as two black men were sitting at a table and had yet to order. This incident raised an alarm against racism and the coffee chain conducted training on race, bias, and inclusion and had shut the store one afternoon for discussion.
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) June 1, 2020
Microsoft: The company shared the black employees’ quotes and feelings in this turbulent time on its social channels.
At this time, we will be using our platform to amplify voices from the Black and African American community at Microsoft.
— Microsoft (@Microsoft) June 1, 2020
Lululemon: The company extended its support not merely by statements but pledged $100,000 donations on Instagram.
Netflix – Their move drew accolades online including director Ava DuVernay and “Orange Is the New Black” and “Mrs. America” star Uzo Aduba.
To be silent is to be complicit.
Black lives matter.
We have a platform, and we have a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up.
— Netflix (@netflix) May 30, 2020
YouTube: The company pledged $1 million in support of efforts against social injustice whereas Amazon Studios released its own message in support of the Black community and against racism on Twitter and Instagram. Other companies showing their support include HBO, Viacom, Pop TV, Quibi, and more.
HBO changed its name on Twitter to #BlackLivesMatter whereas ViacomCBS President of Entertainment and Youth Brands Chris McCarthy wrote in an internal memo that all entertainment and youth brands and platforms would be going dark on Monday for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the precise amount of time the police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck.
A new spot was created that read “I CAN’T BREATHE” on the black background as audio plays the sound of breathing. A Call-to-action was included to support the non-profit Color of Change for civil rights advocacy.
For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, we will go dark in tribute to George Floyd. We dedicate this time to the victims of police brutality and the powerful movement fighting for justice. Join @ColorofChange. Text DEMANDS to 55156. #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/X6587CxuOw
— VH1 (@VH1) June 1, 2020
Adidas: Adidas and Nike, the two rivals came together to support the movement and support George Floyd supporters. Adidas shared Nike’s video.
Together is how we move forward.
Together is how we make change. https://t.co/U1nmvMhxB2
— adidas (@adidas) May 30, 2020
Business in Minneapolis: Many businesses and stores have been damaged or looted during the unrest but still some of the brands and business owners are voicing their support for protesters
Brand ‘Target’ has seen many of its stores looted in the Twin Cities region, however, the CEO put out a statement sympathizing with the movement.
“We are a community in pain. That pain is not unique to the Twin Cities — it extends across America. The murder of George Floyd has unleashed the pent-up pain of years, as have the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We say their names and hold a too-long list of others in our hearts.”
“As a Target team, we’ve huddled, we’ve consoled, we’ve witnessed horrific scenes similar to what’s playing out now and wept that not enough is changing. And as a team we’ve vowed to face pain with purpose.”
Can Brands make a real change: It is difficult to gauge how only words of support for the fight against racial injustice is sufficient. Brands voicing their support needs to translate into action for a meaningful impact. Brands should support lobbying and campaigning pressure on the government and institutions to change the structure which few of the organizations are trying within limited means.
What’s next: Even though these protests will eventually cease, brands must ensure they are doing everything to dismantle the pillars of structural racism. Expect brands that have stayed silent until now will feel the pressure to respond quickly to the ongoing crisis with a viewpoint.
- Neha Mehta
- Neha started her journey as a financial professional but soon realized her passion for writing and is now living her dreams as a content writer. Her goal is to enlighten the audience on various topics through her writing and in-depth research. She is geeky and friendly. When not busy writing, she is spending time with her little one or travelling.
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