In this edition of The Idea Lab, we look at the role corporations can have in talking about social issues. The killing of George Floyd, and the subsequent worldwide furore and conversation about race, put many businesses in the position where they felt they had to speak out. Or, more cynically, gave them a bandwagon to jump on. You be the judge:
McDonald’s: One of Us
The plainest and purest version of a company associating itself with the Black Lives Matter protests. This ran in the summer of 2020.
Procter & Gamble: The Look
An outstanding commercial, one of a series, that had begun well in advance of the tumultuous events of 2020.
Nike: Dream Crazy
One of the most striking examples of a company taking a stand, and the controversy that can result. Colin Kaepernick was a former quarterback in the NFL, who had (in)famously taken a knee during the national anthem as a protest against racial injustice. This was two years before the George Floyd killing. As you’ll see from this film, the ad ran into a firestorm.
New York Times: The Truth Is Worth It: Perseverance
The issue of immigration is often a proxy for a conversation about race. This commercial for the New York Times is about their chasing a covered-up immigration story. Extraordinarily good execution of the idea.
Pepsi: Live for Now Moments Anthem
It’s easy to go wrong when you’re associating yourself with racial protest, and Pepsi managed this spectacularly in the summer of 2017. It depicted Kendall Jenner seemingly using a BLM-like protest as a lifestyle accessory. That story is told in this news item.
The Idea Lab examines what makes effective (or ineffective) communications in the fields of causes, charities and socially-oriented businesses.