July, 2020

With so many societal wrongs starkly exposed, 2020 is proving to be a year of cancel culture. People and brands are discontinuing systems and relationships that perpetuate damaging stereotypes and practices.

One quick way brands are getting involved: pulling spending from areas that perpetuate harm. With recent heightened focus on racial equality, the NFL’s Washington Redskins, whose moniker and logo are considered racial slurs against Native Americans, is in the spotlight. The franchise received immense pressure from investors and sponsors like FedEx, Pepsi, and Nike threatening to sever ties if the team doesn’t finally pursue an identity overhaul. This push led to a long overdue announcement of the name’s review and change before the upcoming Fall season.

Brands are also withholding investments to encourage revisions in media practices. Facebook is under fire for letting false information and hate groups spread unchecked. To urge procedural change and snuff the digital plague, the NAACP, Color of Change, and Anti-Defamation League created the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Canadian companies like Lululemon and Arc’teryx recently joined in the movement to defund Facebook in July. In fact, the campaign has galvanized more than 1,000 brands and counting. People are taking notice, with a majority of Americans (59%) having at least some knowledge of the campaign.*

Making decisions with high stakes are difficult; however, during crises, putting humanity’s health ahead of bottom lines is paramount. To quell COVID-19 infection numbers, the EU banned travel from the U.S., causing the loss of around 15 million U.S. tourists this summer and costing billions.

Calling quits on long standing harmful relationships feels difficult in the moment yet beneficial in the long run, and brands can play a part too. To encourage a culture of inclusivity, strategically allocate dollars and resources towards media entities that reaffirm diversity in their ethos, while keeping KPIs in mind. Using your brand’s mission and values to guide placement of ads will stimulate meaningful change.

Source: *Horizon Media Finger on the Pulse. Fielded, 6/25/20 – 6/29/20, n=1170

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