As anti-racism protests continue across the world in the wake of the death of George Floyd, several brands have spoken out to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement over the last few days.
Many brands are delivering strong statements right now (and it will be interesting to see if they are followed by tangible action). In a minimal, text-based ad, Nike inverted its famous 'Just do it' slogan, urging its followers: 'For once, don't do it. Don't turn your back on racism." Sportswear brand Adidas even put its rivalry with Nike aside to share the message (below).
Together is how we move forward. Together is how we make change. https://t.co/U1nmvMhxB2May 30, 2020
Elsewhere, Twitter changed its profile picture to a black version of its logo, as well as opting for a plain-black header photo (below). This echoes the #blackouttuesday movement sweeping across Instagram today, in which countless users have posted a plain-black square in support of Black Lives Matter.
Twitter takes a stand pic.twitter.com/w7CkCVt9oAMay 31, 2020
Ice cream brand Ben and Jerry's took to Twitter two days after George Floyd's death, sharing a four year-old news post covering the unrest in Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown, in which the brand expressed its support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
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/7ngefmtqnuMay 27, 2020
While it's important for brands to show solidarity, it can be a challenge to avoid looking opportunistic or even tone-deaf – past actions matter, too. Less warmly received was L'Oreal Paris's effort, which saw it proclaim: "Speaking out is worth it". British model and activist Munroe Bergdorf was quick to condemn the post (below), having been dropped from a campaign by the brand after speaking out on racism in 2017.
Excuse my language but I am SO angry. FUCK YOU @lorealparis. You dropped me from a campaign in 2017 and threw me to the wolves for speaking out about racism and white supremacy. With no duty of care, without a second thought. pic.twitter.com/nnBfiP5OqgJune 1, 2020
A global audience is quick to speak out when they judge that a brand is failing to deliver an authentic message, as we saw with McDonald's social distancing logo this March. We have seen before that it can be a challenging tone to strike – take a look at these other examples of big brands trying to be woke and failing – while others get it right.