In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, many companies and businesses have shown their support for the Black Lives Matter movement via social media by sharing messages of solidarity, links to charitable organisations and calling for an end to systemic racism. There have been statements of support and pledges of donations from a wide range of companies, including many of the iconic businesses listed below.
Support for the Black Lives Matter movement can come in many forms, which is why we have redesigned the following 11 logos from iconic brands such as Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Spotify to match the style of the Black Lives Matter logo.
Black Lives Matter
#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 after Trayvon Martin’s murder was acquitted. Today, Black Lives Matter is a global organisation that is dedicated to the eradication of white supremacy across the world. The movement is committed to creating a world free from racism, where every Black person has the social, economic and political power to thrive.
The Black Lives Matter movement demonstrates and protests against police brutality and the deaths of Black individuals at the hands of the police. The movement has received further attention with ongoing protests against police brutality and the death of George Floyd. Support for the Black Lives Matter movement has increased rapidly over the last year and is estimated by the New York Times to be one of the largest movements in US history.
The Coca-Cola Company is one of the companies that has come out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In an announcement called “Where We Stand on Social Justice” James Quincy, the Chairman and CEO, spoke of his outrage and frustration with the racism in America. He also discussed how companies like his must speak up as allies to the movement and stand with those seeking justice and equality.
In the same message, Quincy is quick to mention how The Coca-Cola Company hasn’t made enough progress yet and must do better. Quincy also admits that the company isn’t perfect and while it has done things to be proud of, it has also made mistakes. Quincy ends the message by pledging to do their part as a company to listen, learn and act. These types of messages in support are common, especially across social media, especially on Twitter and Instagram.
Blackout Tuesday, on June 2nd 2020, was a day promoted by activists in an attempt to use social media to bring about policy change following the death of George Floyd. The movement spread across social media where individuals, brands and organisations posted a simple black picture with a solemn message with the #BlacklivesMatter.
However, despite being well intended, these posts had a negative side. Many of the hashtags used served as critical information channels for important updates and with so many accounts posting a blank black image these hashtags became clogged up at a time when visibility and information was critical. Many leading Black Lives Matter activists requested that the hashtags weren’t used with the black images, but the damage was already done.
Some brands have come under criticism for not doing enough to support the movement. Many businesses have been increasingly embracing what is known as Brand Activism to influence consumer behaviour. By taking a stand on social, environmental or political issues, brands can differentiate themselves from the competition and connect with similarly minded consumers. In many cases, brands are quick to adopt the movement’s hashtag but lack the same enthusiasm when it comes to actual change.
IKEA, in a company announcement, shared their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the company’s commitment to supporting racial equity and inclusion in its own workplace. In addition, IKEA Retail US committed $3 million in support of organisations that were working towards social justice and economic empowerment for Black communities. Brand Activism is only effective when brands put their money and efforts where their mouths are. Brands, like IKEA, who not only donate to causes but also commit to internal improvement measures are more likely to benefit from Brand Activism.
While making donations and pledging to evaluate your internal procedures is an admirable decision, many activists argue that there is more to work on in our society. LEGO, for example, has declared that it wants to work towards building a better future for everyone and announced it would be donating $4 million to organisations that are “dedicated to supporting Black children and educating all children about racial equality.”
In addition to the donation aimed at creating a more racial equal future, LEGO has also confirmed that it will cease marketing for any of its toy sets that are related to the police. This move includes over 30 different LEGO building sets that involve police officers, firefighters, criminals and emergency vehicles. This move comes during the widespread protests against police brutality that are happening across the world.
While one of the driving forces behind the current protests across the world is police brutality, racial inequality is also one of the main discussion points. The Colour of Money is a Runnymede report that was released in April of 2020 which found there to be “shocking” levels of economic and racial inequality in Britain. One of the examples given in the report is how Black African households have 10 times less wealth than White British households. The report goes on to discuss some measures that would tackle long-standing inequalities and design a more fair economy.
As LEGO logically targeted children as its target audience, Mastercard has taken a financial focused approach in its support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Mastercard has worked with the National Urban League for over a decade and in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, has made a new donation of $5 million to support the organisation’s goal to support economic self-reliance and civil rights in African American Communities. Mastercard has also said it is looking within its own walls at its hiring and talent development practices to ensure they are creating the right opportunities at all levels for all of their team members.
The outpouring of messages of support for the Black Lives Matter movement from big brands has been followed by renewed scrutiny by activists and the media into the practices of those companies. Looking at where these brands are donating money and how they treat their own employees has, in some cases, shown that the internal behaviour of some brands doesn’t match up with their message of support.
McDonald’s and other fast-food chains didn’t receive the warmest reception to their message of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Even McDonald’s promise of donations to both the National Urban League and the NAACP were met with criticism with the ACLU asking “Do Black lives matter when they work in your restaurants?”. Fast food brands run on cheap food and cheaper labour and have a history of fighting unionization efforts that would support Black workers in their restaurants. No matter how often brands like McDonald’s tweet “Black Lives Matter” the internal workings of the brand will always betray the message.
Starbucks is a brand that is usually associated with a progressive image. However, Starbucks received intense backlash after it was reported that the company had banned its employees from wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts, pin badges and other accessories in support of the movement. This move was intended to prevent any incidents in its locations but was seen as hypocritical following the brand’s show of support to the cause on social media. Starbucks quickly reversed the decision following the outcry from staff and customers online, which led to #BoycottStarbucks going viral.
While the quick change in direction was clearly the right decision, the fact that this was an issue at all shows a lack of preparedness on a topic the company and those responsible for the marketing decision to support the Black Lives Matter movement should have been ready for. Causes like Black Lives Matter are quickly becoming a testing point for many consumers who are giving leading brands a chance to get it right before their trust is gone and their money with it.
Another important message of the Black Lives Matter movement was ensuring that the voices and messages of Black people were being heard. In an announcement on June 1st, Spotify confirmed its support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against racism and injustice. Spotify announced how it plans to use the power of its platform to stand with Black creators and amplify their voices to bring about long-needed change. This includes blacked-out playlists and podcasts in support of Black Out Tuesday, amplification of Spotify’s Black History Is Now hub resource, special curation of playlists and targeted advertising. In addition, Spotify has pledged to contribute up to $10 million to organisations that are fighting against racism and inequality around the world.
In a move in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests, Spotify has also stopped using the term “urban”. The music-industry label has long been used to designate many black artists, from R&B to hip-hop. The Grammy Awards have also ceased using the term in its awards and language. These changes are part of a larger effort to advance the music industry in an effort to listen and learn to Black voices and adapt to be more inclusive. The term “urban” has been seen as problematic for a long time with many creators and people in the genre not liking the description and felt it pigeonholed certain styles of music.
In another move to help amplify Black voices in the UK Virgin Radio UK announced a special edition of its 500 Words writing competition for children. This edition was focused on themes related to the Black Lives Matter movement and was announced in June. 500 Words is the world’s largest story-writing competition for kids and over one million stories have been submitted since its start in 2011. The competition has covered everything from new technology to climate change and is now focusing on themes and issues emerging from the Black Lives Matter movement.
The competition allows children between the ages of five and thirteen to write a 500-word story that can come from their own experiences and feelings. The competition had over 6,000 entries from children all over the UK which were reduced to eight finalists before winners for the two age groups were selected. The winning stories were read out live on Virgin Radio UK and all of the finalist stories are available to listen to via Amazon Alexa. In addition, all eight finalists will have their stories published in a book set to be published in September. All the royalties from the book will be matched by the publisher and donated to children’s literacy and children’s BAME charities. The 500 Words competition is another great way to fundraise for these vital causes while also encouraging children and families to have positive conversations about important world issues, such as the Black Lives Matter movement.
Many people believe that social media platforms need to be doing more to protect and support Black users by ensuring their platform is free from racism and hate. Facebook suffered a huge advertiser boycott in July after The Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which was set up after the death of George Floyd, asked companies around the world to not advertise on Facebook’s services for a month in a show of solidarity. The campaign included the NAACP, Anti-Defamation League and the Color of Change. The aim of the campaign was to show Facebook that profit is never worth promoting hate, racism and violence.
Brands that took part in the boycott included Ben & Jerry’s, The North Face and Patagonia in response to Facebook taking a lenient approach to controversial posts on its platform. The Stop Hate for Profit campaign also criticised the social media platform for its partnerships with far-right sources, such as Breitbart News and The Daily Caller which both have records of working with white nationalists. Employees at Facebook have staged walkouts over the company’s relationship with far-right individuals, but so far far-right content remains on the social media platform.
On the other hand, the social media platform Twitter is working to give some of its Black Lives Matter messages a larger platform around the world by sharing them on billboards and massive outdoor displays. Real tweets from Black users have been used for these displays in US cities where major Black Lives Matter protests are occurring. The #BlackLivesMatter hashtag first appeared on Twitter in 2013 but in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, the hashtag has been used in more than 350 million tweets about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Twitter is doing more to increase conversations about the movement and on Juneteenth, the platform featured a voice tweet from one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, Opal Tometi, about “Black Joy”. Twitter amplified Black Joy in a video from its Black employee resource, Blackbirds, and encouraged users to post more #BlackJoy messages.
Show Your Support
If you want to show solidarity and support the Black Lives Matter movement then sign one of the many petitions that support the cause. Petitions are one of the most accessible methods of activism you can take part in. Black Lives Matter has a page dedicated to petitions that you can sign and show your support.
While there is rarely a legal requirement for any official body to respond to a petition, they can be a great way to put pressure on people in authority to make changes. For example, one of the biggest petitions of 2020 was “Justice for George Floyd” which had over 19 million signatures and aimed to have the officers involved in his death charged. Thanks to this petition and other calls for justice the officers involved were fired and charged, showing that petitions can be effective.
There is also a wide range of organisations you can make donations to, such as Black Lives Matter, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and The Bail Project, which raises money to post bail for those who can’t afford it in an effort to fight against mass incarceration in the US. In addition, if you would like to learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement then visit their “What Matters” web series. What Matters is a range of interviews that uses a documentary narrative to educate on specific issues and help individuals learn and connect with the cause.