We’ve all read news stories of company advertising gaffes that are insensitive to people’s racial, gender and abilities and culture. In April 2017 alone, several top companies have had to apologize for their racial insensitivity. Pepsi for example had to pull its insensitive ‘black lives matter’ commercial, Nivea did the same for a ‘White Purity’ ad and the latest cringe-worthy gaffe came from Shea Moisture hair commercial about black women’s hair. You can read about each of the situations in depth. This post explores what happens to the company and consumers, of these brands after insensitive advertisements.
Public Apologies and Criticisms
Usually after such gaffes responses pour in online from apologetic statements from the company and outcry on social media from the consumers. For example, Pepsi wrote in a statement on its website “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark, and we apologize”.
The hope with statements as these is to publicly illustrate the company aims to do better and not repeat its mistake. For the offended, it seems this is time to vent frustrations on social media. Just read some Twitter comments below on Shea Moisture commercial.
In response to Shea Moisture gaffe, a Twitter commenter wrote that Shea Moisture could make a more direct statement the company ‘love, respect, celebrate and appreciate Black Women.’
.@SheaMoisture I woulda been down for an apology that said “we love, respect, celebrate & appreciate BLACK WOMEN” instead of acting like it’s a dirty word.
— wikipedia brown (@eveewing) April 24, 2017
This Twitter post did not accept Nivea’s apology say that it was not a ‘good apology.’
— Nancy Friedman (@Fritinancy) April 5, 2017
What Happens Next?
But after these apologies and comments then what? Does the company simply state their apology and go back to business as usual? Does the consumer celebrate the company’s tarnished reputation and settle satisfied in their justified comments?
What I hope could happen is that there are moments after or during these public relations failings and criticisms that each person recognizes one thing – we all f*%k up. Think about it. We don’t know everything. We don’t know every nuance about each other’s racial group, gender, ability levels.
For companies and individuals who want to do better, these moments are opportunities to take real steps to improve. Most of us socialize and work in homogenous environments which can be breeding grounds for insensitivity those who are different. Perhaps, more companies could do better by simply hiring more diverse professionals that represent minorities blacks and Hispanics, for example, to ensure that they are on the leadership team that helps finalize creative decisions.
Most of us socialize and work in homogenous environments which can be breeding grounds for insensitivity those who are different. Perhaps, more companies in the United States could do better by simply hiring more diverse professionals that represent minorities such as Black, Hispanic and other underrepresented professionals, to ensure that they are on the leadership team that helps finalize creative decisions.
Studies have shown that diversity and the perspectives these professionals bring help companies make better decisions. Individuals who want to learn from their mistakes can actually take initiative to learn a little more about the culture, race, gender, or religious where they have been ignorant. Much easier to learn from each other when we are in the same room.
Find events to meet, have a conversation or sit at a table with more people we don’t know. Shameless plug, perhaps join a Unieros multicultural event or join our conversations online.
The intention to be sensitive to others can be awkward but why continue down the same path until the next time you read about a company’s public or have your own personal gaffe? Learn from mistakes and let the sunshine on those dark places even if burns a little.