Companies back ‘black lives  matter’ campaign

Nike and Reebok have released compelling video campaigns urging people to stand up against racism and violence

Saumya Tewari
Updated3 Jun 2020, 12:50 AM IST
Twitter’s blue bird turned a sombre black in support of the black lives matter promo.
Twitter’s blue bird turned a sombre black in support of the black lives matter promo.

Twitter’s blue bird turned a sombre black. YouTube and Google Search home pages reflect their solidarity with protesting blacks in the US.

Nike and Reebok have released compelling video campaigns urging people to stand up against racism and violence.

The world over, top brands like Netflix, Google, Twitter, Citigroup, Nike and Reebok have taken a bold stand supporting the Black Lives Matter human rights campaign that has intensified after the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in the US.

Yet, their campaigns are never replicated in India where these brands are equally popular.

The reasons, say experts, could be rooted in Indian culture.

“Being woke (aware of social injustices) works in more developed economies beautifully where most people have climbed up the need hierarchy and are at the ‘self-actualization’ stage. Therefore, campaigns such as #BlackLivesMatter get absorbed, adapted and adopted by brands and companies. The brands that take a stand on this will be respected for the backbone they have developed and shown. Consumers thereby tend to support these brands more,” said Harish Bijoor, brand strategy specialist and founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

In India, by contrast, if a brand takes a social stand the market gets divided into two and the larger market segment opposes the stand. “In my opinion, woke is niche in India and mainstream in US,” he added. Brands in India walk on eggshells, fearing legal battles or social media backlash for taking a stand on any issue. Even personal opinions expressed by brand ambassadors can unleash public fury on the brand.

Snapdeal ambassador Aamir Khan’s comment on increasing intolerance in India led to a social media backlash, with users uninstalling the Snapdeal app, forcing it to end its association with the Bollywood actor.

Jitender Dabas, chief operating officer, McCann Worldgroup India, said brands are a part of a larger culture and their reaction depends on the culture of the country they operate in.

“Indian brands react in the way our society behaves, which is largely non-confrontational. Our brands are less confrontational and subtle when it comes to social messaging, but they have taken a stand on social issues such as Hindu-Muslim unity,” he said.

Dabas gave the examples of Surf Excel detergent soap (‘Share the Load’ on gender equality), Red Label tea (Taste of Togetherness campaign on social inclusivity) and Zomato, which took a strong pro-diversity stand after a customer refused to accept an order from a Muslim delivery man.

“Today consumers buy distinguished than differentiated brands that stand for certain values. These brands draw a large part of their equity because of their stand on social issues,” Dabas added.

Distinguished brands are those that take a stand on social issues while differentiated brands are those which only offer functional benefits of a product or service.

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First Published:3 Jun 2020, 12:50 AM IST
HomeCompaniesNewsCompanies back ‘black lives  matter’ campaign

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