Moving into the start of 2020, brands made their predictions about marketing trends for the year ahead. This is a long-standing tradition in the world of marketing. But who could’ve predicted where we’d be by August of this year? In January, could we have foreseen the depth of the year’s civil rights movement, the pandemic, and an ever-more-divisive election year? And many marketing efforts aiming to address the chaotic nature of the year have fallen flat, or worse. So here are 4 examples of creative content marketing strategies and campaigns by creators and agencies that are getting it right.
Professional Basketball Takes a Stand
In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many other Black people in America at the hands of both police and civilians, brands in all industries have had to take careful stock of their own roles and complicity in upholding racist structures and institutions. They’ve also had to make challenging decisions on how to respond effectively — or whether it’s appropriate for them to respond at all. Some have stayed silent. Others have pledged support. And some have put in real work and gotten specific about the actions they’re planning to take.
The National Basketball Association chose to air an ad with footage from Black Lives Matter protests. The video begins with the acknowledgement that “racism is everywhere.” It does not shy away from footage of necessarily blunt signage such as “White Silence Is Black Death.” And it includes images of NBA leadership asserting that “Black Lives Matter.”
The Women’s National Basketball Association also created a video of Black WNBA players voicing, as player Sydney Colson emphasizes, “a statement of fact: that Black Lives Matter.” In it, we see the faces and hear the voices of Black women letting the world know that, definitively, they matter.
As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to grow, creating a poignant video is just one step. But it’s the follow-up that makes for real change. And when it comes to the NBA and WNBA, there is a documented history of support for the BLM movement and other key social justice causes. For 2020 and beyond, “Black Lives Matter” was emblazoned on the court in Orlando for the NBA’s new season, along with the court for the WNBA’s 2020 season. NBA team owners have pledged to donate $30 million per year to the new NBA Foundation, dedicated to empowering Black communities with economic support. And the WNBA has dedicated its 2020 season to Breonna Taylor and began the season with a moment of silence for her.
Both the WNBA and the NBA earn A+ ratings on the subject of racial hiring practices by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES). In keeping with this rating, showing support for and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement has proven to be the right move for these and other professional sports leagues. So videos such as those embedded above have helped them to express and visualize that support.
Creative Content Marketing That Supports Digital Connection
Launched in 2016, Google Duo, a video calling service, relies on the importance of visual interactions to drive togetherness. Burrell Communications produced a moving video narrated by the late poet Dr. Maya Angelou depicting features of the product and real human connections forged using Duo.
Burrell, a Black-owned creative content agency, made the impactful creative decision to center Black voices and stories in the ad. According to a report by Adobe, only 26% of African-Americans feel represented in advertising, while more than twice as many white respondents (59%) feel the same. So it’s clear the agency’s decision for this ad was a notable push in the right direction.
A Creative Digital Marketing Agency Pushes for Black Female Representation
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A fifteen year old entrepreneur?! You go, @mikailasbees! ⠀ ⠀ When Mikaila was 4, she was stung by a bee twice within the same week! At first, she was afraid of bees but after a discussion with her parents combined with Mikaila's love of reading and research, she became fascinated with bees and learned all about what they do for our ecosystem.⠀ ⠀ Around this time, she decided to start a business to enter in to a competition, so she recreated her grandmother's flaxseed lemonade recipe by adding honey from bees, instead of only sugar. That's how Me & the Bees Lemonade was born! Me & the Bees has been in business for 10 years, and donates a percentage of sales to help save the bees.⠀ ⠀ The award-winning, ready-to-drink Me & the Bees Lemonades is sold at Whole Foods Market, The Fresh Market, World Market, H-E-B stores across Texas and Kroger stores in Houston. It is also available at a growing number of restaurants, food trailers and natural food delivery companies.⠀ ⠀ Not only that, but Mikaila can now add "author" to her already impressive resume! A prime example of turning "lemons into lemonade!"
Black- and women-owned digital marketing and influencer agency Black Girl Digital centers Black women’s voices as creators and audiences. This segment is historically underrepresented and stereotyped in advertising. What’s more, Black women still struggle to find products made with them in mind, such as in the beauty sector.
Yet as of 2017 nearly 1 in 7 women in the United States is Black (14%). Further, Nielsen projected that Black spending in the US could hit $1.5 trillion in 2021. So acknowledging and lifting Black female voices is first and foremost a necessary action for representation. But it also simply makes business sense to take a more inclusive approach to digital marketing.
A Beauty Brand Bares Real Faces
Over the years, Dove has become known for its Real Beauty campaign. The brand aims to build self-esteem among its audiences by making women who aren’t models the stars of its advertising campaigns and other content.
So Dove’s introduction of its Real Courage video amid COVID-19 was both on-brand and humbling. The spot shows still images of the names and faces of healthcare workers, marked and bruised from hours of enduring goggles, masks, and face shields while protecting patients. In this way, Dove sticks to the “real” element of its brand while honoring the sacrifices of healthcare workers in 2020.
We can’t be sure what the rest of 2020 will hold. Yet, the timing of your agency’s creative content marketing launches may be more important than ever before. So keep your eyes on current events and a pulse on your audience to avoid missteps.