Are Brands Using Racism in their Advertising Campaigns to go Viral?

In this episode of #TalkTimeWithRonke I address how ignorance and tone-deaf advertising has leads to a misconception that brands are using racism to go viral. As we know over the past, couple of years major brands, from Pepsi to Dove to most recently Heineken have experienced PR disasters. These brands with multi-billion pound budgets have made nonsensical missteps when it comes to their campaigns. These missteps have led to social media users voicing their outrage/concern/confusion/bemusement and for the brands to backtrack, take stock and usually issue a standard apology. Let us not forget that these adverts usually go viral BECAUSE of the outrage aimed at the content not because of the content. If brands really are making a concerted effort to stir up outrage not only are they doing their brands a disservice by want to be linked to racism but they are pouring a lot of money down the drain to highlight their own ignorance; that in and of itself is a bizarre business strategy. Does the outrage lead to an increase sales? I have never seen that to be the case and from what I know from my business experience most businesses are in business to actually make money not lose it (great piece via Glossy on this issue) If the media coverage generates anything it is usually clicks for the media outlets who report without holding brands accountable? So we seem to be going around in a circle.

In this video I address some of my own thoughts on whether these brands are using racism to go viral.

Here’s a New York Times piece on the Heineken Beer commercial –

Here’s another Heineken advert that some might argue shows that they have attempted to address social issues in the past:

Here are some pieces on the lack of diversity in the advertising industry:

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