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How Did Marketers Approach Juneteenth?

Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S., recently became a formally recognized federal holiday. And, while the day has been around for a very long time, its newly elevated status has left many marketers uncertain about how to approach it, while leaving others expecting cringworthy and ill-advised efforts. So reports Marketing Brew.

juneteenth 5296279 640“Few holidays have made their way onto the calendars of companies big and small with the same speed and purposefulness,” notes an article from “For many business owners, the question isn't whether to celebrate the historical event, but how.”

Corean Canty, COO of marketing and networking organization, We Are Rosie, told Marketing Brew that brands are “jumping on Juneteenth just because they see the opportunity.”

For example, the article notes, Old Navy had to nix a campaign after pushing Black influencers to buy its Juneteenth shirts, while the NHL’s Sharks deleted a Tweet showing its mascot “breaking the literal shackles of slavery.”

Some worry, according to Marketing Brew, that Juneteenth could be co-opted the way Pride Day has become. When Pride started 51 years ago, it wasn’t commercialized, but today it is a “corporate branding-palooza” with even US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tweeting about it.

Jordan Muse of The Martin Agency tells Marketing Brew he advised a client that Juneteenth doesn’t connect with their brand’s value and behaviors and therefore they should skip mentioning the day.

Canty noted it is important to be authentic to your brand. “Are you actually connecting with that audience before you even develop the campaign? Who’s sitting at the table? Who’s making the decision?” she asks.

Here are examples of how some firms choose to recognize Juneteenth, according to the Inc. article:

  • Actively Black hosted a virtual run that raised money for the Liberation Fund, which defends victims of police misconduct. "So while we're celebrating, we're also still fighting," said founder Lanny Smith.
  • Amazon announced the launch of the Black Business Accelerator, which is designed to help support Black-owned companies using the site to sell its goods and services.
  • Bandcamp hosted its second annual Juneteenth fundraiser with plans to 100% of its portion of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
  • OneUnited Bank hosted a free virtual financial conference, entitled One Transaction, to help close the massive racial wealth gap.
  • Square and Twitter both made Juneteenth a company holiday last year. This year the company participated in “an employee donation-matching program pledging up to $1 million, and it has allocated $500,000 in ad grants to nonprofits dedicated to fighting for racial justice,” according to the Inc. article.

In short, firms should tread carefully. Juneteenth is a holiday, but it should not be an occasion to offer inauthentic comment that is designed to simply stay in front of customers. Any efforts or comments should be consistent with your brand voice and not simply show up once a year on Juneteenth.  



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