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  • How do people want brands to respond to embedded inequality?
  • How do people want brands to respond to embedded inequality?
    Sprite (2020) ©
Thought leader

Why anti-racism is the next standard for brand activism

The death of George Floyd and ensuing protests saw companies worldwide attempt to address systemic racism in their messaging – though many faced a tide of consumer cynicism. Semiotics expert Chris Arning explains how brands can meaningfully show their commitment to anti-racist action.

Location Global

“For once, Don’t Do It. Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America. Don’t turn your back on racism.” Nike’s message, which smartly subverted its long-standing slogan, was among the first brand responses to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

Such a moment of reckoning can be, to understate it, uncomfortable for businesses that have often been complicit in upholding institutional racism. A 2020 paper published as part of Stanford University’s Closer Look Series highlighted that, in the US, Black people account ...



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    What constitutes a safe workplace?

    As businesses reopen post-lockdown, employers have a greater responsibility than ever to look after employees’ health. At the same time, the BLM protests have honed people’s attention on the effects of systemic racism. So, how might the events of 2020 redefine ideas of a safe workplace?

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    Ignorance is bliss! The science of the ostrich effect

    Whether it’s exam results or election updates, people aren’t always eager to find out new information, instead finding solace in the unknown. Canvas8 spoke to Emily Ho, a research assistant professor at Northwestern University, to understand why some people choose to be blissfully ignorant.

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    What makes people respond to cause-based marketing?

    Cause-based marketing sees brands launching campaigns and posting on Instagram to show their support for social issues. Yet while they may mean well, such efforts are routinely criticised, especially by discerning Gen Zers. So, how can brands demonstrate their commitment to a good cause?

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    What does activism mean for American Boomers?

    Boomers may have grown up alongside the hippie movement, but Gen Yers and Zers seem decidedly opposed to their contemporary social and political views. Are older Americans as conservative and self-serving as the ‘OK Boomer’ insult makes them seem? Or are they still keen activists?