Brands speak out in support of Black Lives Matter
Following the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minnesota – the tip of the iceberg among racist events that unfolded in the weeks prior – the Black Lives movement gained widespread support among brands.
On May 28, the Black Live Matters movement took center stage, surpassing mentions of COVID-19 on social media, according to Comperemedia analysis of Infegy data. More than 40% of mentions came from people aged 13-24, ie, the most racially and ethnically diverse generation ever: Gen Z.
On May 30, Target halted its paid social campaigns. Amid the civil unrest and rioting in Minneapolis, the chain was among the many businesses vandalized and looted during protests.
Nike also halted all of its digital ad campaigns on May 30. In lieu of paid social, the company was quick to release an organic, 60-second spot on its owned social channels.
In response to the protests sweeping the nation, brands and many of the largest record companies pledged to observe “Blackout Tuesday” on June 2. The industry initiative started under the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused: the brainchild of two Black women who work in music marketing, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang.
Overnight, #TheShowMustBePaused initiative morphed into #BlackOutTuesday. The digital protest took on a life of its own as it was widely adopted, spreading far beyond the music industry.
Spotify, Apple and TikTok were among the platforms that participated in the initiative, putting Black voices front and center.
Apple Music blocked its ‘For You’ browse and radio functions with a prompt acknowledging “steadfast support of the Black voices.” The three functions were replaced with a Beats 1 stream playing music from Black artists.
TikTok removed all playlists and campaigns from its sound page as it observed Blackout Tuesday. TikTok also launched Black Music Month to support and uplift Black creators.
What we think
We’re ten days into protests and seven years into the Black Lives Matter movement. Brands cannot just stand in solidarity – they must push for better.
Brands should ask themselves:
- Are we balancing words with meaningful impact and action?
- How are we addressing diversity and inclusion internally?
- How are we empowering and investing in underserved communities?