Brand responses to #BlackLivesMatter have drastically changed since the movement’s formal inception in 2014 when 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. In the six years since Brown’s death, more than 1,252 black people have been killed by law enforcement, according to The Washington Post’s database tracking police shootings. It took the recent publicized police killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade to get brands to speak out against racial injustice.
Consumers are apparently holding brands more accountable for their actions, which in turn, is causing brands which tend to deviate from politicization to break their silence. But how much of it is genuine, and how much of it is saving face? It’s difficult to tell what is what, but advocates told Adweek that protesters want more than words.
What’s one surefire way to enact meaningful change in the world? Smash your piggy bank. Several brands have been opening up their purses and shelling out thousands for legal defense and bailout funds, among others. Beauty company Glossier, for example, is donating $500,000 to six organizations and $500,000 in the form of grants to black-owned beauty businesses.
It should be noted that many of the brands that have made significant monetary donations or have offered solutions through purposeful social initiatives are taking steps to correct problematic pasts.
Facebook’s employees are still unsuccessfully mounting internal and public pressure to censor President Trump’s provocative posts regarding the protests in response to George Floyd’s death that, according to Twitter, glorified violence. The platform’s inaction has caused potential partners, like Talkspace, to suspend further discussions. According to Talkspace CEO and co-founder Oren Frank, Facebook “incites violence, racism and lies.”
In December, Peloton released a marketing fail that was accused of being dystopic and sexist, among other unflattering descriptors. Target may be providing support for its 200 displaced Minneapolis employees and is promising to invest more in the city’s black and brown communities, but that doesn’t erase its history of racism at home base. Uber spent up to $500 million on an apology campaign in 2018 to scrub its tarnished reputation (grievances against the carpool company included allegations of racial discrimination by the company’s former head of HR).
Though imperfect, at least these brands are putting money where their mouths are instead of merely performing authenticity. Here are the brands offering up more than just words to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
This list is ongoing. Spotted a brand giving back? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The unisex yogi clothier is donating proceeds from this past weekend’s sales to Black Visions Collective and Campaign Zero. Many followers pointed out on Instagram that although they were pleased with Alo’s decision, they would like to see the brand champion yogis of all races and ethnicities, sexes, genders, bodies and abilities. A look through Alo’s feed shows how white and monolithic its social media presence has been thus far.
Fast-casual restaurant chain &pizza will be giving its employees paid time off for activism “for those unseen but his country to be seen, for those unheard by this government to be heard,” their statement said. In April, &pizza donated 100,000 pies for those at the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The social media platform is pledging $10 million “to efforts committed to ending racial injustice,” Charles Porch, vice president of global partnerships at Instagram, said.
Leggings empire Lululemon is making a $100,000 donation to the Minnesota Freedom Fund. One current employee, @wanderbus, commented on the Instagram announcement with gratitude. “For almost 9 years I have worked for this company. Every single year is better than the last. Without fail,” she said. “As a black woman, I have gotten to experience the absolute care and intention that Lululemon puts into moving forward and being better. How Lululemon pours into its employees. But this … I have no words for pride I feel at this moment.”