June was a big month for business communications. The Black Lives Matter movement stole headlines, and rightly so. Many brands spoke up, others didn’t, and some tried and failed. June also marked Pride month and saw significant criticism levelled at the Government regarding free school meals. Here, we break down two PR campaigns we loved from June and one we think could have gone better.
#MakeaUTurn And Skittles
Usually, Pride month is marked with marches across the globe. However, due to the pandemic, all official events were cancelled. But that doesn’t mean the month couldn’t be celebrated. For the past five years, confectionary brand Skittles has given up its rainbow on its packaging, acknowledging that the only rainbow that matters during Pride month, is that of the LGBTQ+ community.
This year, the company went even further, teaming up with Switchboard – the LGBTQ+ helpline that provides invaluable support to those most vulnerable – and Gay Times to organise a letter exchange. The campaign allowed people to tell queer relatives, chosen family or dearest allies that they were thinking of them during these unprecedented times by sending them a personalised note in the post, free of charge.
Why we like it: This campaign shows the adaptability of marketing. For an event that usually culminates in physical celebrations, COVID has thrown a huge spanner in the works – but Skittles didn’t allow it to stop it from sharing its solidarity and providing real support to the community. And teaming up with one of the leading publications for the target market was a masterstroke.
Throughout the pandemic there has been a real sense of coming together as a community. We no longer ask, ‘I hope you are well?’, to be polite, we genuinely care about the answer. Equally though, it has made us realise shortfalls in Government policy and one such shortfall was amplified by the help of Premier League footballer, Marcus Rashford.
The #MakeaUTurn campaign was a public plea for the Government to continue funding free school meals during the summer holidays to help the families who have been hit hardest by the economic impact of coronavirus. And the 22-year-old professional footballer showed himself to be as effective as a seasoned lobbyist.
He ramped up his activity until the Government took notice and backed his pleas. He started with a genuine open letter sharing his own experiences, then followed it up with an article in The Times, countless interviews, social media activity, all culminating in a personal telephone call with the Prime Minister.
Why we like it: This campaign wasn’t a glossy, multi-platform, big budget deal. It was a heartfelt, personal, yet simple strategy. Whilst Rashford has stated that his work is not done, the #MakeaUTurn campaign is a perfect example of how PR can be used to make real change.
June was also a huge month for the Black Lives Matter movement, and all manner of brands and businesses scrambled to share their support, but not all were greatly received.
As one of the largest conglomerates in the beauty industry, L’Oreal Paris too paid lip service to the movement with a social media post, reading ‘Speaking out is worth it’. It added that it stands in solidarity with the Black community and against injustice of any kind. However, the company was swiftly called out by transgender model Munroe Bergdorf on Instagram for not supporting her when she spoke out against the racial violence of white people in 2017.
What to learn: This is a key example of when corporate communications go bad. When a brand or company makes a public statement, particularly one about such a sensitive topic, it is critical that statement is backed up. Not every brand is perfect, and nobody expects them to be, but performative activism will only leave behind a bad taste. Since the initial post, Munroe Bergdorf has spoken with the brand’s new president, Delphine Viguier, who has acknowledged the company’s wrongdoings in the past and they are working on how to best move forward.