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Why Protesting Brands Is A Part of The Problem Not The Solution

“Let’s protest the brands,” is a common war cry of sorts that I have continued to hear across radio, tv and internet air waves over the last several months. Consumers of all walks of life have rallied together to protest brands related to everything from President Trump to Bill O’Reily to Colin Kaepernick to the NFL to most recently yet another racially insensitive campaign released by Heineken in which the ad is shown of a beer being passed by African American attendees at a party and landing in the hand of a Caucasian consumer because ‘lighter is better’.

As you can see consumer activism has become the new way in recent years for consumers to show their disdain for a brand but is it really working? Maybe or maybe not.

According to a recent study by Edelman it was revealed that most brands engage customers in a way that interest and involve them but fall short of getting them invested to the point where consumers would advocate on their behalf as ‘brand activists’.

On the flip side, consumer activism may temporarily impact a company’s bottom line but in the age of social media many consumers including consumer activists seem to have a short term memory and eventually forget why exactly they are protesting.

In addition, external protesting may be good for raising external awareness but most consumer concerns stem from campaigns and ideologies that are conceptualized on most occasions internally making many protests ineffective in the long term.

So what exactly can consumers do in light of campaigns such as the recent Heineken as oppose to boycotting? Well if you want a real solution, get a seat at the table(ie: join company boards, apply for open positions, etc.)

It is estimated that despite the large sums of money spent by multicultural consumers that only 3% of advertising/marketing/pr dollars went to multicultural campaigns and that can in part be due to the idea that there are no representatives from these communities seated in positions of power in these agencies.

While I do believe systems can be impacted from the outside I am also a firm believer that most major change has to happen within and if consumers want to see a true impact of their activism it’s time they remove themselves from behind the computer and make sure their voices are amplified in the boardroom.

Want to learn more about how your company or brand can benefit from having more multicultural talent? Send me an email at stephanie@blackgirlgroup.net or visit our website an online freelance platform that connects African American women freelance creatives to companies seeking to reach African American consumers.

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