Good and Bad PR: Credit to brands actively supporting the Black Lives Matter movement

This week, I want to actively keep the focus on the Black Lives Matter movement that is building momentum in the US and across the world, because it’s important that we don’t stop talking about the need for an anti-racist stance just because we think we’ve said or done our bit.

Good PR

There are a number of brands that have been brilliantly vocal about the Black Lives Matter movement since the death of George Floyd on 25 May 2020, but in a way that is more than just a few passionate and heartfelt words. I’m talking about real action that can make a difference. It’s easy to spot the brands that feel they need to tick the box of saying something on the matter, and then the ones who are actively contributing toward driving change.

Here are some brands that are really putting their money where their mouths are:

  • Glossier – became one of the first beauty brands to openly pledge its support to the anti-racism movement by donating $500k to organisations that fight racial inequality and injustices AND committing to create their own fund to the sum of an additional $500k to give grants to black-owned beauty businesses.
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  • Spanx – the shapewear brand is donating $100k across Black Lives Matter, NAACP legal defence and educational fund and the Minnesota Freedom Fund, plus an additional $100k to Atlanta-based organisations.
  • Lego – donating $4million to organisations dedicated to supporting black children and educating all youngsters about racial inequality, plus halting advertising for police toys and asking its retailers to do the same.
  • Eckhaus Latta – the US fashion brand announced it would be matching all donations made to The Bail Project (which offers assistance to protesters in cities where it has offices) by people that DM’d screenshot receipts as proof of donation.
  • Ben & Jerry’s – elaborating on its ‘we must dismantle white supremacy’ post, the ice cream brand delivered one of the most decisive and passionate statements I’ve seen from a brand, outlining four separate calls to action directed at Trump, Congress, the Department of Justice and supporting George Floyd’s family’s intent to build a national task force and legislation to end racial violence and make police more accountable. Full details here.

There are many other brands giving more than just a few words on the matter and whether or not people want to speculate if their actions are just to benefit from a bit of good publicity, does it really matter? All that really matters here is that their donations and commitments are driving positive change.

Bad PR

Little Britain has been removed from Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Britbox and those of you who’ve ever seen it will probably quickly realise why.

For those unfamiliar, the sketch show starring Matt Lucas and David Walliams, featured a character named Desiree Devere for which Walliams wore blackface.

The show has never really been without its controversies, with racistscharacters, slurs, offensive portrayals of the LGBT community and poking fun at disabilities.

Mockumentary Come Fly With Me, another series featuring the duo, has also been removed from the streaming platforms, due to the make-up worn for (and portrayal of) characters Taaj, Moses Beacon and Omar Baba.

Back in 2017, Matt Lucas said in an interview: “If I could go back and do Little Britain again, I wouldn't make those jokes about transvestites. I wouldn't play black characters. Basically, I wouldn't make that show now. It would upset people. We made a more cruel kind of comedy than I'd do now.”

Walliams also said he would “definitely do it differently”.

The sketches certainly make for uncomfortable watching and it’s good that more people are starting to feel that way.

In other news, comedian Leigh Francis, known for his Keith Lemon character, issued an apology last week for playing black individuals in his Bo’ Selecta show on Channel 4 back in the 2000s.

Written by Shannon Peerless, managing director of 10 Yetis Digital. Seen any good or bad PR lately? You know what to do @10Yetis on Twitter or andy@10Yetis.co.uk on email