Can brands refrain from taking a stand?

The protests of the past few weeks have left no one indifferent. The wave of solidarity and empathy towards the ‘Black Lives Matter’ activist movement, which resulted in a widespread and global demonstration of support to the African-American community in the US, led to the teardown of polemic statues and deeper discussions about the role of police in society and the celebration of controversial figures in history in public spaces worldwide. And if in a not too distant past brands retreated and avoided taking unequivocal positions on the political or social conflicts that were emerging here and there, today it is practically impossible to do so. The truth is that, in the polarized and fragile environment we live in, our audiences and consumers expect from their usual brands much more than tiresome words and hashtags. As economic and social relevant actors, we are required to take a clear stand on a diversity of rupturing issues. Abstention is no longer an alternative. After all, if we are what we consume, what are brands but our own reflection? So, in addition to the usual and expected supporting publications, there are several examples of global brands that have joined more forcefully to an already historical event: Twitter has changed the colors of its logo to black as a tribute, Glossier spoke out and pledged to donate half a million dollars to different organizations dedicated to justice and racial equity and the youth channel Nickelodeon aired a powerful 8 minutes and 46 seconds video – the time that George Floyd was immobilized by the neck to the ground – where you could read “I can’t breathe” and only hear the sound of breathing.

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