Category: BLM

B2CRM News

The “Black Doll Test” Goes to Target

Target recently partnered with blogger and social media influencer, Glo Atanmo, to become an ally to the Black Community by sharing her perspective of the world with customers.

To spark the conversation, Target asked in an Instagram post, “Do your kids own Black dolls?”

 

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The idea behind it is that Black dolls don’t have to be just for Black children and Target is encouraging customers to diversify their children’s toy selection by representing dolls of color.

Perhaps influenced by “The Doll Test,” which has been conducted a number of times since the 1940s where young children are asked a series of questions to identify the race of the doll and its associated characteristics.

In each experiment, the majority of children associated the White doll with the positive attributes and preferred it over the Black doll – proving that racial stereotypes exist even among children.

Fast-forward to nearly 2021, Target is setting goals and a strategy to change this by calling for diversity and inclusion (D&I), changing the landscape of major organizations across numerous industries.

The retailer goes on to explain in the Instagram post that parents must influence their children to play with Black Dolls, asking whether customers have ever considered purchasing colored dolls.

“Everything you buy for your kids could turn into a teaching moment,” said Glo Atanmo.

“It’s important for kids of all colors to have dolls and toys that accurately represent the diversity of the society and world we live in.”

Target also offers customers the ability to customize and design the perfect playtime pal that’s “just like me” with the option to choose everything from hair, eye, and skin color of the doll.

To further show its support and fight for racial equality among its workforce, Target has announced its role as a founding member of OneTen – a coalition of 37 companies combining forces to train, hire and advance 1 million Black Americans over the next decade.

“At Target, we believe that diverse and inclusive teams are the most successful. We’ve had ambitious diversity and inclusion goals for many years, which help us recruit diverse talent and create an equitable experience for the hundreds of thousands of team members who work for Target,” says Target chairman and CEO Brian Cornell.

“We also committed this fall to increase our representation of Black team members by 20 percent over the next three years. Our work as a founding member of OneTen will support that commitment by creating opportunities across our company that don’t require a college degree to build a career at Target.”

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Big Names Among the Latest Retailers to Join the…

In June, Canadian fashion designer, Aurora James started the 15% Pledge movement that promotes racial justice and social equality by urging companies to commit 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses. The idea behind the number is the fact African Americans make up almost 15% of the total U.S. population.

As the owner of luxury shoe brand, Brother Vellies, James honors the pledge with her brand by continuously inspiring the Black community to find their voice and feel comfortable in their skin.

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“The 15 Percent Pledge was launched out of the need for increased representation in the workforce and financial equality for Black-owned businesses,” said James.

The campaign already works with large retailers like beauty brand Sephora, cannabis retailer MedMen, Canada’s biggest bookstore Indigo, fashion magazine Vogue, and even the modern furniture and home décor shop West Elm.

President of West Elm, Alex Bellos, said in July when they joined the pledge: “We are determined to use our purchasing power to create economic empowerment for Black-owned businesses, artists and designers. We look forward to working with the 15 Percent Pledge to ensure our commitments make an immediate and sustained impact.”

Now Macy’s just made the big news. The American department store giant announced its bold commitment to the 15% pledge, with plans to support Black businesses, Black staff, and Black communities.

Macy’s is said to be the largest retailer to join the pledge to date, paving the way for others to boost Black-business by increasing representation of Black-owned companies across all its product categories.

 

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InStyle Magazine also just announced their commitment to the 15% pledge, writing the following message on their Instagram account: “Not only are we taking the Pledge, we plan to commit 15 percent of our coverage to Black-owned businesses; focus on diversity and inclusivity in our representation of models, celebrities, and additional features; as well as pledge to amplify Black creatives and spotlight voices of Black experts, stylists, and artists to avoid incorrect attribution and appropriation.”

 

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The fact that brands are stepping up to ensure their commitment to Black businesses and putting it front and center is a testiment that for consumers, brands’ words are not enough and they need to put them in action.

At the beginning of the BLM movement, numerous brands were showing support to the Black community, for instance posting black images to their social media accounts on #BlackOutTuesday.

A genuine commitment to the 15% pledge is a whole other ball game that really shows a brand’s values and drive towards racial equity. Joining the commitment and announcing it to the public is a huge leap towards proactively giving back to the Black community.

If you’re wondering, consumers can also do their part. The 15% pledge organization states the following Consumer Commitments:

Step 1: Take Inventory (of your own spending power)

Step 2: Buy Black (at least 15% of your monthly spending)

Step 3: Donate ($15 a month goes a long way)

 

 

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BLM

Reacting to Racism: How H&M Addresses Controversy with Transparency

Welcome back to the final Brand Marketing Spotlight, where we analyze the ad campaigns and marketing techniques of the world’s most successful companies. Today, we’ll showcase H&M to explore how modern brands use transparency to cultivate diversity and overcome negative reputations.

On June 1, 2020, H&M released a statement showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. It outlined support for the black community, expressed sympathy for those impacted by violence, and highlighted several charitable actions it would make in the coming months. H&M was not unique in preparing such a statement. Still, one crucial detail stands out: The brand included a few brief sentences acknowledging its own “past mistakes.”

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There’s a good reason H&M included this caveat – the brand has faced multiple race-related scandals over the years. Dealing with a single incident is bad enough, but repeated instances highlight a distinct lack of sensitivity towards black customers. What’s more, these missteps give H&M a reputation that undermines any positive efforts about diversity the company tries to put forward.

To its credit, H&M appears to be doing its part to learn from each incident. That they recur is not necessarily a sign of failure but a reminder of how challenging it can be to address systemic racism within any organization. Beyond the culture reset, overcoming a negative reputation is a long game that requires consistency, transparency, and a willingness to participate in a larger conversation. The good news is change is possible – though it’s unlikely to happen overnight.

Stereotypes on display

Of all of H&M’s race-related missteps, perhaps the most widely known example occurred in 2018. The company released a promotional photo with a black model in a hooded sweater with the words “coolest monkey in the jungle” printed on the front – referencing centuries old racial stereotypes. The public reaction was immediate, inspiring protests in South Africa before H&M ultimately recalled the shirt.

Such events are problematic not just because of a single image but also because many flawed decisions led to its debut. H&M hired a black model for the photograph, approved it for promotions, and displayed it in H&M stores. At best, it suggests that everyone at H&M didn’t see a problem or weren’t particularly motivated to address it.

After the outcry, H&M took action to correct its mistake, pulling the hoodie from circulation and assuming responsibility for what happened. It also took the step of appointing Annie Wu as its new global leader for diversity and inclusiveness, making a more substantial effort to change its work culture.

Unfortunately, H&M also gave statements that downplayed the issue as accidental. “The impact and repercussions of this mistake were big and serious, and as we said at the time, we were truly sorry,” Annie Wu said in an interview.

“I do think though that we can all see that it was actually a genuine mistake and, if we’re really honest, we can see that it was probably just down to a series of mistakes or ‘misses’ that led to this slipping through.”

Customer marketing challenges and opportunities

From small mistakes to a big reputation

H&M would quickly realize that ingrained racism – especially the kind one considers unintentional or non-malicious – is much harder to address than it appears. A year later, the company found itself in hot water when a children’s clothing ad neglected to style a young black model’s hair, suggesting that the industry pays little attention to natural hairstyles. However, far more serious was the beanie named internally with a racial slur by one of H&M’s owned brands.

Individually, each event looks like a mistake that H&M can quickly address with public action. Taken as a whole, they give H&M a reputation for ingrained racism that it cannot dismiss easily. As Roots to Ends president, Christine P. Augustin, said after its un-styled hair advertisement was published: “This is not the first time that H&M has done something like this, so I wasn’t surprised, but I was very upset.”

The consequences of a negative reputation are far more insidious than any one event. They generate feelings of outrage in customers that linger long after the inciting incident has passed. Over time, such a reputation can make it challenging to acquire new customers, ultimately harming your bottom line.

H&M genuinely seems to be trying to do the right thing, though with the knowledge that it has likely alienated some consumers forever. The company publicly acknowledges its faults while pushing for increased diversity, both within the organization and its marketing materials.

The retailer’s campaigns put forward ad creative that include people of all ages, backgrounds, and skin colors to reflect its global reach and audience. Unfortunately, in a worldwide organization, sometimes it just takes one misstep to reinforce a negative reputation.

Sadly, uprooting centuries of ingrained racist attitudes, behaviors, and stereotypes is incredibly difficult to do – both in life and in marketing. Even a global organization that promotes diversity will have blind spots. What’s more, expensive diversity programs sometimes have the effect of reducing diversity within an organization, not promoting it. Something more is necessary. But what?

Progress is difficult, not impossible

Perhaps the first step is merely acknowledging that combating racism takes time. Sometimes that means progress is uneven but remains possible all the same. In the meantime, being transparent about your objectives and missteps can make the progress you’ve achieved feel more genuine.

Another crucial step is to listen to diverse voices, both within and outside of your organization. “This has been historically a Swedish company. And we are now shifting over to being a global company, but that won’t be changed just by training alone,” Wu told CNN in response to the beanie incident. “That has to do with how we also expose ourselves to different cultures, to different people, and how we really include them in everyday conversations.

Finally, it’s vital to remember that progress is taking place, even if it moves at a glacial pace. When H&M halted production of the racially insensitive beanie, it wasn’t because of a public outcry, but because H&M employees spoke up internally. This shows that change is possible even within a global company when a transparent process is in place. There’s still a long way to go, but that remains a promising step all the same.

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