Some people and brands took the day off yesterday. They didn’t fill their social media timelines with promotional material. Instead, many opted to place a black rectangle in their stream as a way to show solidarity with the anti-racist, anti-fascist movement.
Of course, many brands had no business wading in these waters. For example:
Want to really stand for racial justice? Change your name. https://t.co/XTlIJrfNx4
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 2, 2020
Accountability is not the same as bandwagon-jumping. Not even close.
Cool cool cool, so glad you made a statement.
QUESTION: How do you plan to “bridge the racial divide” and will you be transparent about both your goals and your metrics?
Cuz otherwise, this is just a word salad. https://t.co/XYdxI1EbOr
— Kate Ertmann 💪🏼🌊⬆ (@GOK8) June 2, 2020
The problem with a blackout on social media is it is way too easy. It’s virtue signaling without the virtue.
Clients with Cold Hearts Are Clients To Drop
I found some interesting commentary on Reddit this morning.
Here’s a string about how it feels to pump up brands in a time of economic malaise and widespread social unrest.
A lot of people chimed in to add their points of view, including a client who talks about how busy his team is. That was not moving, so let me provide a response that is.
To repeat and emphasize, “You can be creative as long as that creativity is serving capital.”
That’s the answer to so many of the industry’s problems. For instance, another ‘ism—ageism—is directly connected to this problem. As one grows and ripens in this business, one acquires more skills, which makes one more productive and more valuable, but also more expensive.
The real reason we don’t see many people over 40 in agencies these days, is so utterly simple. The client won’t pay for them, so the agency won’t employ them.
When it comes to race and gender, it’s not about money, it’s about the white men in charge, maintaining established order, and decades of bad patterns. Some of these white men want to change, but wanting to change is not the same thing as committing to it. To commit to change, it requires new actions not just hollow messaging that goes nowhere.
Sticker Mule Finds the Way
Sticker Mule isn’t playin’. Instead, they’re actively working the problem.
We spent the last week talking and listening to black people at Sticker Mule and in our local community. Collectively, they developed 3 actionable ideas that they want heard.
— Sticker Mule (@stickermule) June 2, 2020
The three action items that Sticker Mule’s community wants are:
- End police unions now
- Reevaluate all police officers’ performance within the next 30 days
- Rebuild black communities
These are tall orders, but that’s okay. Tall orders are much better than hollow messages or make-you-feel-good memes.
We all have work to do to fix advertising, ourselves, and our communities. Some of us have a lot of work to do.
In Related News, Muy! Is Very Blanco
Did you know that the CEO of Wendy’s parent company donated more than $440,000 to President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, a fact that is causing problems for the brand on Twitter?
Muy! is the owner and operator of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s. The firm has no people of color or women on its leadership team. The sad fact is Muy! is representative of corporate boardrooms all across this nation.
Maybe ad people can’t change a client like Muy! What ad people can do is change themselves. Ad agencies and others who serve brands do wrong when they mimic the client. I’ve watched this happen several times over. Agencies tend to adopt their client’s culture to help make the client feel better. That’s a bad idea. Many clients I know don’t need to feel better, they need to be better.
The agency, like any consultant, isn’t there to hold the client’s hand or any other part of their anatomy. The agency is there to kick the client’s behind into gear. To wake the client up. To provoke the client to think bigger and do more. I know that’s not how most agency people behave today. I’m suggesting it’s how ad people must behave now to regain credibility with our clients and relevancy with their customers.