Brand responses to #BlackLivesMatter have drastically changed since the movement’s formal inception in 2014 when 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. In the six years since Brown’s death, more than 1,252 black people have been killed by law enforcement, according to The Washington Post’s database tracking police shootings. It took the recent publicized police killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade to get brands to speak out against racial injustice.
Consumers are apparently holding brands more accountable for their actions, which in turn, is causing brands which tend to deviate from politicization to break their silence. But how much of it is genuine, and how much of it is saving face? It’s difficult to tell what is what, but advocates told Adweek that protesters want more than words.
What’s one surefire way to enact meaningful change in the world? Smash your piggy bank. Several brands have been opening up their purses and shelling out thousands for legal defense and bailout funds, among others. Beauty company Glossier, for example, is donating $500,000 to six organizations and $500,000 in the form of grants to black-owned beauty businesses.
It should be noted that many of the brands that have made significant monetary donations or have offered solutions through purposeful social initiatives are taking steps to correct problematic pasts.
Facebook’s employees are still unsuccessfully mounting internal and public pressure to censor President Trump’s provocative posts regarding the protests in response to George Floyd’s death that, according to Twitter, glorified violence. The platform’s inaction has caused potential partners, like Talkspace, to suspend further discussions. According to Talkspace CEO and co-founder Oren Frank, Facebook “incites violence, racism and lies.”
In December, Peloton released a marketing fail that was accused of being dystopic and sexist, among other unflattering descriptors. Target may be providing support for its 200 displaced Minneapolis employees and is promising to invest more in the city’s black and brown communities, but that doesn’t erase its history of racism at home base. Uber spent up to $500 million on an apology campaign in 2018 to scrub its tarnished reputation (grievances against the carpool company included allegations of racial discrimination by the company’s former head of HR).
Though imperfect, at least these brands are putting money where their mouths are instead of merely performing authenticity. Here are the brands offering up more than just words to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
This list is ongoing. Spotted a brand giving back? Send an email to email@example.com.
The unisex yogi clothier is donating proceeds from this past weekend’s sales to Black Visions Collective and Campaign Zero. Many followers pointed out on Instagram that although they were pleased with Alo’s decision, they would like to see the brand champion yogis of all races and ethnicities, sexes, genders, bodies and abilities. A look through Alo’s feed shows how white and monolithic its social media presence has been thus far.
Fast-casual restaurant chain &pizza will be giving its employees paid time off for activism “for those unseen but his country to be seen, for those unheard by this government to be heard,” their statement said. In April, &pizza donated 100,000 pies for those at the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cruelty-free skincare brand Bliss has made a $40,000 donation to The Antiracist Research & Policy Center.
The House of Mouse is giving $5 million to support social justice initiatives, starting with a $2 million donation to the NAACP and following with more donations to organizations like the United Negro College Fund.
Announced in a blog post on the e-commerce company’s site, Etsy will be donating $500,000 to the Equal Justice Initiative and $500,000 to Borealis Philanthropy’s Black-Led Movement Fund, as well as matching employee donations.
The social media platform is pledging $10 million “to efforts committed to ending racial injustice,” Charles Porch, vice president of global partnerships at Instagram, said.
Fashion Nova Cares, the online fast fashion retailer’s philanthropic initiative launched alongside rapper Cardi B in April 2020 to give away $1 million for Covid-19 relief, has now pledged another $1 million to Black Lives Matter, Know Your Rights Camp and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.
The plastic construction toy line and multimedia franchise has donated $4 million to organizations dedicated to supporting Black children and educating children about racial equality.
Leggings empire Lululemon is making a $100,000 donation to the Minnesota Freedom Fund. One current employee, @wanderbus, commented on the Instagram announcement with gratitude. “For almost 9 years I have worked for this company. Every single year is better than the last. Without fail,” she said. “As a black woman, I have gotten to experience the absolute care and intention that Lululemon puts into moving forward and being better. How Lululemon pours into its employees. But this … I have no words for pride I feel at this moment.”
Lyft co-founder and CEO Logan Green announced on his Twitter that the carpool company would build upon its social responsibility initiative LyftUp by providing an additional $500,000 in ride credit to the National Urban League, NAACP, National Action Network, Black Women’s Roundtable and National Bail Fund Network. Lyft will also donate ride credits to Minneapolis’ Lake Street Council, an organization committed to rebuilding the blighted Lake Street commercial corridor.
Procter & Gamble
Together with its 65 individual consumer goods brands, P&G will be establishing the “Take on Race Fund” with an initial contribution of $5 million. Per the company’s announcement, the fund has been created “to accelerate and expand this work alongside organizations that fight for justice, accelerate economic opportunity, enable greater access to education and health care and make our communities more equitable.”
The stationary bike and group fitness brand announced it would make a $500,000 donation to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund on Instagram. They also encouraged their followers to speak up and speak out against racism.
Slack (and Away)
Slack and Away’s co-founders Stewart Butterfield and Jennifer Rubio—who are engaged to each other—will be giving $700,000 to 10 social justice organizations and are setting aside $300,000 to match donations to any of those organizations.
Following an alleged technical glitch that made posts with the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd appear as if they had zero views, TikTok donated $3 million from its Community Relief Fund to nonprofits that aid the Black community and another $1 million toward “fighting racial injustice and inequality.”
Uber is donating $1 million to the Equal Justice Initiative and The Center for Policing Equity “to support their important work in making criminal justice in America more just for all,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on Twitter.
The up-and-coming dating app for Gen Z pledged $1,000 to Nike-backed Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp.