Exceptional brands create culture, but most brands reflect culture.
Reflecting the culture since mid-March has been a creative challenge, given that millions of people are stuck at home and fearful for their health and economic well being. To make matters much worse, one week ago today, a Minneapolis cop was caught on video murdering a nonviolent man—an act which has led to peaceful protests, plus burning and looting in American cities from coast-to-coast.
It’s a horrid state of affairs for the people of this nation, and a terrible spot for all Main Street retailers and big-box stores to be.
Target is a Minneapolis-born and bred retailer. The Target team is feeling the pain. Thankfully, the company has compassionate leadership.
“We are a community in pain. That pain is not unique to the Twin Cities—it extends across America. And as a team we’ve vowed to face pain with purpose.” Read a note from Target CEO Brian Cornell: https://t.co/ZLzfPxj2DP. pic.twitter.com/hjGLSRW1qi
— Target News (@TargetNews) May 29, 2020
Because Target is concerned about the safety of its team and guests, the company is deciding to adjust store hours or close stores temporarily. Stores closed until further notice:
- Broadway Oakland, CA
- Buckhead South Atlanta, GA
- South Loop Chicago, IL
- Lake Street Minneapolis, MN (goal of opening in late 2020)
- Uptown Minneapolis, MN
- Washington Square, Philadelphia, PA
Brian Cornell, CEO of Target, wrote, “Since we opened our doors, Target has operated with love and opportunity for all. And in that spirit, we commit to contributing to a city and community that will turn the pain we’re all experiencing into better days for everyone.”
Virtue Signaling on Twitter, It’s A Thing
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) May 31, 2020
We stand in solidarity against racism and violence. When members of our community hurt, we all hurt. We’re pledging $1M in support of efforts to address social injustice.
— YouTube (@YouTube) May 30, 2020
To be silent is to be complicit.
Black lives matter.
We have a platform, and we have a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up.
— Netflix (@netflix) May 30, 2020
— NFL (@NFL) May 30, 2020
Messaging must live in harmony with operations. When it does not, the message falls flat or is labeled “Total Bullshit,” by the viewer.
Take the NFL’s missive above. The NFL blackballed the nation’s self-appointed spokesperson for combatting police violence. The white owners removed their nemesis from the game altogether. They took his livelihood away. The NFL is part of the problem, and the league can’t hide behind weak PR now.
Let’s hear from the man with street cred, instead.
When civility leads to death, revolting is the only logical reaction.
The cries for peace will rain down, and when they do, they will land on deaf ears, because your violence has brought this resistance.
We have the right to fight back!
Rest in Power George Floyd
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) May 28, 2020
Nike is another deeply flawed company with a typical surface approach to the problem. Thankfully, The Swoosh is continually unmasked by its critics.
Hey @Nike, ‘Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America.’ Not one Black person on your executive leadership team: https://t.co/59e7o4DMgx for a company that’s made billions out of Black sports people and consumers. Change THAT. @zanger @adweek https://t.co/16ecpiUqoV
— Cindy Gallop (@cindygallop) May 30, 2020
Close the Economic Divide, Heal the Nation
Kapor Capital in Oakland is not playing games. Check out the language and the POV this firm is advancing, and compare it to some of the corporate milquetoast being passed around today.
7/15 This moment calls for more than words (and donations). Every aspect of business as usual needs disruption. We need actions so never again will we have two Americas, one privileged by wealth, opportunity, and safety and the other shackled by skin color and zip code.
— Kapor Capital (@KaporCapital) June 1, 2020
Violence comes in so many forms—physical, mental, spiritual, and economic. A close examination of wealth in the U.S. finds evidence of staggering racial disparities. At $171,000, the net worth of a typical white family is nearly ten times greater than that of a Black family ($17,150) in 2016.
Black families have one dollar for every ten dollars that white families have. That’s a fact that can not be argued around or shuffled under a ten thousand dollar oriental rug. Racism and inequity are baked into the American experience.
Freedom Ain’t Free
Do you know what else is baked in? False rhetoric about freedom. “People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take,” said Emma Goldman, who was jailed for her radicalism and outspokenness.
Not much is clear today. That much is clear. What we do know is injustice is on trial. The American people are the judge and jury and our public streets and parks are the courtroom.
A system where justice only comes when it is bought and paid for is a system with its own demise built-in.
TV Advertising Is Too Expensive
Where will America, the culture and the economy go from here? Where will the ad business be in three months or in six? No one knows. All we know is The Hard Reset is upon us. The economic fallout of the pandemic has caused companies to slash TV ad budgets by more than 40 percent, according to the research firm Kantar.
Before the pandemic, 30 percent of ad spending in the United States went toward TV commercials, while 56 percent went to purely digital platforms. By the end of the year, “this gap is really going to blow out,” with TV “falling more dramatically,” said Michael Nathanson, a founding partner of the MoffettNathanson research firm.
If what Nathanson says is true, the ad people left standing will be even more reliant on digital than ever. That ought to send several shivers down the ad-makers’ collective spine.