#BlackLivesMatter: From Unilever to PepsiCo and Johnson & Johnson, brands take a stand against racial discrimination

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Published: June 26, 2020 10:00 AM

Industry analysts point out the trick will reside in manoeuvring the transition

Recently, a number of brands have announced their plans to either change the packaging or brandRecently, a number of brands have announced their plans to either change the packaging or brand

On Thursday Unilever announced its plans to create a more inclusive vision of beauty and rebrand the popular skincare brand ‘Fair & Lovely.’ “We’re committed to a skincare portfolio that’s inclusive of all skin tones, celebrating the diversity of beauty. That’s why we’re removing the words ‘fairness’, ‘whitening’ and ‘lightening’ from products, and changing the Fair & Lovely brand name,” the company said in an official communique.

Recently a bunch of brands have announced their plans to either change the packaging or brand. The move was made post the movement #BlackLivesMatter. For example, PepsiCo owned Quaker Oats announced that it would retire Aunt Jemima from its packaging as the brand is based on ‘racial stereotypes’. Next, rice company Uncle Ben’s is all set to scrap the image of a black farmer the brand has been using since the ’40s. While Johnson & Johnson, said that it would no longer sell skin-whitening creams popular in Asia and the Middle East. “Any product or service that reinforces stereotypes be it race or colour is never a great proposition, and global corporations need to be very sensitive to these issues. I only wish this had happened much earlier and did not need a movement like ‘Black Lives Matter’ in the USA, and Johnson & Johnson withdrawing a similar offering, to precipitate it,” Lloyd Mathias, business strategist and marketing expert, said.

This while is a long-awaited move, what remains to be seen is how these brands transit. According to Titus Upputuru, national creative director, Dentsu One and creative head, Taproot Dentsu, it remains to be seen how these companies create new identities. “I do believe that brands of this stature do not merely depend on the brand name or the imagery on the pack. They are part of collective consciousness and every little thing that the companies have been investing over the decades has gone into building these brands in our minds,” he added.

Analysts point out that companies will now walk towards creating a new identity as it tries to carry forward the best of the former years. According to Sumanto Chattopadhyay, chairman and chief creative officer, 82.5 Communications, in some cases, brands have already travelled a certain distance to stay in step with evolving mindsets. “The trick will be to fulfil the hankering for certain types of products and related brand imagery and yet not be convicted in the court of progressive opinion,” he explained.

Read Also: Coronavirus Impact: Why brands need to walk the cause and not only talk

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