Brands have a responsibility to come together and do the right thing

Back at the end of June I wrote a blog post on how marketers can play their part in creating a more equal world. Given the racist backlash that Sainsbury’s are facing following the release of their Christmas 2020 ads, (well one particular part – Gravy Song – part 1 of 3 Christmas ads), it seems relevant to reiterate the importance of businesses doing the right thing.

One thing is sure: this ad has made it impossible for those more ignorant, and blind to their own privilege, to pass racism off as a US only problem. It’s real. It’s global and it needs to change.

Now is the time for businesses to band together with Sainsbury’s and do the right thing. Christmas advertising accounts for the majority of annual ad spend, particularly within the retail sector (that’s no secret) and with the weather getting colder, lockdown across the UK very much being a thing, there are many more eye balls on the TV and across social media. This isn’t the first time a supermarket has come under fire for representing non-white people within a Christmas ad – back in 2017 Tesco faced similar backlash on social media for including a Muslim family celebrating Christmas.

The problem is, white people are so privileged to always see themselves represented on British TV that when they watch something without white representation, it’s noticeable. It shouldn’t be but that is the reality. What matters is how we react to it and how other brands react to it.

For white people, myself included, we should be acknowledging the level of privilege we have been afforded just by being white. We should be checking ourselves for never realising that we are over represented consistently. We should be sharing the content and brands representing black people. We should be amplifying black voices, continually educating ourselves on how to better allies.

For brands, the social media backlash should serve as a call-to-action. Don’t be influenced by the threats of boycotts. Stand by your beliefs and values as a company. Brands, particularly huge consumer brands, have vast amounts of marketing budget at their disposable. That means they have the money to develop both incredible pieces of content AND generate the reach of this content across multiple channels. It’s a time (well, long past the time) to show support for the Sainsbury’s ad (and any other ad that includes people who aren’t just white) and amplify it. Amplify the ads of businesses owned by black people. Put money where your mouth is – act like most companies said they would when the Black Lives Matter protests were brought into mainstream media eye.

For Pink Digital, we’ll soon be doing our round-up of our favourite Christmas ads and in a bid to do what’s right, will be only including those with diverse casting. To make sure you don’t miss out subscribe to our posts and keep an eye on our social channels.

And, if you’re interested, here’s the now infamous Sainsbury’s ad – which by the way, we love!