77.9 F
Fort Worth
Thursday, October 1, 2020
- Advertisements -
Entertainment Brands weigh in on national protests over police brutality

Brands weigh in on national protests over police brutality

Other News

Carole Baskin of ‘Tiger King’ fame sued for defamation

By MIKE SCHNEIDER Associated Press ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Carole Baskin, who became a pop culture sensation due to...

Netflix delves into the ‘human side’ of Challenger disaster

By MARK KENNEDY AP Entertainment Writer NEW YORK (AP) — Many Americans have vivid memories of Jan. 28, 1986.

Hilary Swank leads a mission to Mars in Netflix’s ‘Away’

By ALICIA RANCILIO Associated PressNEW YORK (AP) — Before she went into acting, Hilary Swank was one of those kids who looked...

New this week: Selena Gomez, Jason Sudeikis & Gloria Estefan

Here's a collection curated by The Associated Press' entertainment journalists of what's arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week.

By LINDSEY BAHR and ANNE D’INNOCENZIO The Associated Press

As thousands of protesters take to the streets in response to police killings of black people, companies are wading into the national conversation but taking care to get their messaging right.

Netflix’s normally lighthearted Twitter account took on a more somber tone on Saturday: “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.” That got retweeted over 216,000 times and “liked” over a million times.

The streaming service is just one of many corporate brands that have turned to social media to voice concerns over racial injustice after the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes.

At the same time, companies must consider whether it makes sense for them to weigh in, especially on an issue as sensitive as race.

“It’s brand activism,” said Alexander Chernev, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “It’s not surprising. But companies have to think very carefully before they take a stand on these issues.”

There are plenty of examples of brands speaking out forcefully on social media, particularly in industries where cultural awareness is necessary part of the business. WarnerMedia, which is owned by AT&T and includes brands like HBO and TBS, changed their handles to #BlackLivesMatter and all posted the same James Baldwin quote: “Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind.”

Twitter changed its iconic profile image to black with the Black Lives Matter hashtag. Media giant ViacomCBS tweeted “Black Lives Matter. Black Culture Matters. Black Communities Matter,” and on Monday announced that its cable properties like MTV and Comedy Central will go dark for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to honor Floyd.

Nike, which famously took on the racial injustice issue head-on with its ad campaign featuring former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick,  revealed a new video ad on Friday that bore the words: “For once, don’t do it.” The ad, a twist on its “Do it” motto, urged viewers not to “pretend there’s not a problem in America.”

Even automakers took unusually strong stances on Floyd’s death.

“I am both impatient and disgusted by the fact that as a nation, we seem to be placated by the passive discussion of ‘why,'” the normally reserved General Motors CEO Mary Barra wrote in a weekend note to employees. “There comes a time when we are compelled to stop diagnosing what is wrong and start advocating for what is right.”

At Ford, Executive Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Jim Hackett told employees Monday that the company would “lead from the front” by committing to a fair and inclusive culture for workers.

“We know that systemic racism still exists despite progress that has been made,” they wrote. “We cannot turn a blind eye to it or accept some sense of ‘order’ that’s based on oppression.”

But some companies that offered up statements of support were called out on their own track records on race. L’Oreal, one of the world’s biggest cosmetics companies, tweeted Monday: “Speaking out is worth it,” and pledged a “commitment” to the NAACP. That drew swift criticism online from those who see the company’s business model and advertising as focused on white consumers.

Likewise, Amazon’s tweet urging the end of “the inequitable and brutal treatment of black people” received backlash from followers, who questioned the company’s own commitment during the coronavirus pandemic in which employees have been complaining about unsafe working conditions.

Other companies have been kept their messages broad. For instance, The Walt Disney Co. and its brands, like Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar, all posted the same statement on Twitter about standing for inclusion and with the black community. Starbucks, which took heat in 2018 when two black men in one of its Philadelphia stores were arrested for not ordering anything, simply said it will stand in solidarity with black partners, customers and communities: “We will not be bystanders.”

Brand experts say corporate America needs to go beyond statements and outline what they plan to do to combat racism.

“Expressing solidarity with the Black Lives Movement is the right message, but everyone is jumping in on that bandwagon,” said Allen Adamson, co-founder and managing partner of Metaforce a marketing and product consultancy. “Just saying you are standing with them is nice but probably isn’t going to be meaningful for them or for the brand. It can be seen as opportunistic.”

Wendy Liebmann, founder and CEO of WSL Strategic Retail, agrees, saying there is no reason to make a public statement unless the company actually has a concrete plan to help resolve the issue of racism. She praised Peloton’s Twitter pledge to donate $500,000 to the NAACP legal defense fund as an example.

Jeans giant Levi Strauss & Co. is also backing its statements with money, committing $100,000 to its longstanding partner ACLU. YouTube pledged $1 million to support efforts addressing social injustice. And semiconductor chip manufacturer Intel is pledging $1 million to address social justice and racism.

Some of the most moving statements so far have come from corporate executives who are black.

Marvin Ellison, president and CEO of home improvement chain Lowe’s tweeted a statement about growing up in the Jim Crow South and the company’s zero tolerance for racism, discrimination and hate. Citigroup’s Chief Financial Officer Mark Mason repeated Floyd’s words “I can’t breathe” in an emotional corporate blog post.

And Jide Zeitlin, chairman and CEO of Kate Spade, Coach and Stuart Weitzman parent Tapestry Inc., who along with Ellison is one of only a handful of black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, noted in a heartfelt LinkedIn post to his employees that some of Tapestry’s stores had been damaged during the protests but he said his focus quickly turned to the looters after determining his staff was safe.

“What was going through their minds as they acted? Has our society truly left them with little to lose and few other ways to force the rest of us to come to the negotiating table?” he wrote. “We can replace our windows and handbags, but we cannot bring back George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, and too many others. Each of these black lives matter.

____

Auto Writer Tom Krisher contributed from Detroit.

- Advertisements -
- Advertisements -

Latest News

Last solo recording of jazz icon Dave Brubeck to be released

By RUSSELL CONTRERAS Associated Press RIO RANCHO, N.M, (AP) — Nearly eight years after his death, the final solo...

Country star and hit Elvis songwriter Mac Davis dies at 78

By KRISTIN M. HALL AP Entertainment WriterNASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country star Mac Davis, who launched his career crafting the Elvis hits...

New this week: Mariah Carey, Gloria Steinem & ‘South Park’

By The Associated Press Here's a collection curated by The Associated Press' entertainment journalists of what's arriving on...

Tickets Now on Sale for North Texas’ First Drive-In Air Show

The Drive-In is back. And it's not just for movies and concerts - it's for Air Shows too.

Shut up and listen with Stage West’s Porch Talk

Tune in to Stage West’s new podcast Porch Talk, a journey and opportunity to learn from the voices that make up the...