Brands need to speak out in support of the Black community

As HubSpot announces new funding for black economic empowerment, we asked a black marketing strategist if brands are doing enough.

HubSpot announced this week that it is investing $ 20 million in social impact, including a $ 12.5 million investment in the Black Economic Development Fund, which supports financial institutions led by blacks and other organizations.

In a statement, HubSpot’s CEO described the investment as part of HubSpot’s support for combating systemic racism through long-term change: “Our aim is to invest in the fund to support and promote the empowerment of black communities. To HubSpot’s partnership with HBCU Howard University, which we talked about in November.

Many brands, not just the technical ones, earlier this year expressed support for black communities and #BlackLivesMatter. But is this rhetoric supported by very comprehensive measures? We spoke to Martin Okechuku, CEO of the WHTWRKS agency, and he was completely led by Black, who was recently involved in campaigns for Hennessy, Burger King, and Mountain Dew.

First, we asked him to tell us about WHTWRKS. “The agency was created out of frustration,” he said. ‘We felt that brands were not using culture in the right way. We have felt that they do things like replace text and images, but they do not really develop the point of view or context from a cultural perspective – they do not necessarily think of the people they are talking to. So in the last twelve months, you have discovered many mistakes with brands that had good intentions but that had a clear understanding.

According to Okechuku, it is not enough to replace the white part of an advertisement with black. “It is necessary to think about the position, what the whites would do to the blacks, who they would be at the time, how they would react to the environment.”

Which brands have manifested themselves?

After the murder of George Floyd, the shooting, and other horrific incidents of Jacob Blake in the spring and summer of 2020, some brands emerged, but not all. Okechuku said brands that acknowledge that they have a large number of black buyers decided to make a good statement.

‘I think GM and Cadillac were some of the best examples because they realized that black people lead the culture. They understood the value of the black consumer. Pepsi also benefited me by investing nearly $ 300 million in black and mixed varieties. WHTWRKS was designated by Pepsi as a black agency to work on a black entrepreneurship program. Okechuku also cites Ben & Jerry’s as an example of a brand that originated and is attractive to other brands as well.

However, some marks got stuck in the middle. They weren’t brave enough to say anything that would move the needle. This is a real shame. Are these brands concerned about the loss of white consumers? “A thousand percent,” said Okechuku, “but they need to understand what they’re doing. It’s a business decision: you’ll have more black and brown consumers, you’ll be close to the 2025 peak,” and it will be. more mixed purebred children. To get. in the United States, in the next few years, five or ten years later, the world, as it has been for generations, will be written: Be on the right side of history that we humans ask for.

Is Okechuku encouraged by initiatives from companies like Hub Spot in the field of Martech? “Money is always good. Putting money into an institution that can support black businesses and entrepreneurs is great. The challenge is to always show local money. Who is responsible for distribution and how do you measure its impact? (The Black Economic Development Fund is managed by Local Initiatives Support Corporation.)

The immediate future. Will the new Biden administration create an atmosphere where there can be more positive engagement with these issues? “I am very confident,” says Okechuku. ‘I think you’ll see money in small businesses, and I hope a lot of that money ends up going to black businesses. This is the only way to eventually narrow the wealth gap for a generation.

Why do we care? For marketers who engage and support black and brown audiences, it’s not only a good brand for brands, it’s the right thing to do.

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