In late May, when racial justice uprisings sprang up around the country, many brands joined in the outcry for racial equality, including more diverse workplaces and more inclusive advertising.
2020 didn’t mark the first time brands and advertisers committed to being more diverse. But often in the past, pledges to do better fell short or were forgotten. This time, it appears quite a few brands, from software companies to major corporations, are striving to keep the movement alive, matching actions to words. And many brands are using digital strategies to amplify their racial justice messaging and mandates.
Adobe Launches New Initiatives To Highlight Diverse Voices In The Creative World
Motivated by an interest in creating more diverse outlets for creatives, Adobe has launched several initiatives to highlight and help women and people of color. Creativity, notes Ann Lewnes, EVP and CMO at Adobe, “has the power to unite us, help us cope, inspire us and drive positive change in the world. But, creativity needs to be more accessible to, and celebrated by, every one of us— regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, gender or sexual orientation. At Adobe, we believe it is our responsibility to give diverse voices a greater platform to share their stories, especially in this unprecedented moment.”
Adobe’s diversity initiatives include:
- Sponsorship of The New York Times' special digital content series from T Magazine, “T Presents: The 15 Creative Women for Our Time”
- The Sundance | Adobe Fellowship at the Sundance Institute, which aims to increase diversity in filmmaking
- A landing page on Adobe’s Creative Cloud called Diverse Voices that celebrates collaboration, amplification and connection among diverse audiences
Branded content from the T Magazine sponsorship drives readers to the Diverse Voices Creative Cloud, which is also being promoted heavily on Adobe’s Instagram channel.
Facebook Launches A Series of Virtual Events In Support Of National Black Business Month
In recognition of National Black Business Month (celebrated in August), Facebook launched a month-long series of “education sessions and awareness programs” for Black business owners. Among the initiatives is a partnership with the U.S. Black Chambers for a series of virtual programs aimed at Black entrepreneurs navigating COVID-19. “This year’s National Black Business Month is pivotal for countless Black entrepreneurs enduring the pandemic-induced recession coupled with historical Black business closures and unemployment,” said Ron Busby, U.S. Black Chambers President. “We know first hand Black entrepreneurs need targeted business support. In honor of National Black Business month we’ve partnered with Facebook to execute a month-long series of trainings and programs that targets topics and issues impacting Black business owners.”
Additionally, Facebook Elevate, Facebook’s recently created community and learning platform, is hosting sessions for Black businesses and creators throughout the month on health and wellness, finance and wealth, food and beverage and beauty and fashion. Against the backdrop of the advertiser boycott, led by several prominent civil rights organizations, Facebook using their vast network to amplify and help Black voices is likely a good business decision, in addition to being the right thing to do.
Unilever And T-Mobile Join Sponsorship Of Shonda Rhimes’ New iHeartMedia Podcasts
As part of a larger deal with agencies and investment groups focused on developing more multicultural programming and advertising strategies, Unilever and T-Mobile have signed on as sponsors of Shondaland's podcast programming. Mobile Marketer reports, “Gen Z is the most ethnically diverse demographic group in U.S. history, and their growing clout as consumers will profoundly affect the way marketers develop advertising strategies that promote inclusion. By sponsoring podcasts from Shonda Rhimes, the first African American woman to produce a top 10 network series with ‘Grey's Anatomy,’ Unilever and T-Mobile can potentially reach a diverse audience.”
By tapping into the popularity of podcasts, which have been on an interesting ride during the pandemic, brands can also target their ad buys to specific programming that reaches certain audiences, including people of color, women and other marginalized groups.
Although immediate reactions, from brands and elsewhere, to the Black Lives Matter and racial justice movements have settled down, the need for action hasn’t changed. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, “69% of Millennial and Gen Z consumers think brands should be actively involved in the BLM movement,” and BLM engagement strategies, including atoning past failings, attracting new consumers with proactive gestures, acknowledging the issues and advocating for change, can all have varying degrees of impact on consumers and brand perception.
Brands and businesses that align their brand identities with the racial justice movement in a way that feels authentic may encourage loyalty from like-minded consumers and are more likely to be perceived positively as allies, as opposed to opportunists. By utilizing digital strategies like, branded content, virtual programming and strategic partnerships, brands increase their reach, engagement, loyalty and, of course, their impact.
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