Juneteenth Marketing: Celebrate with Integrity

While Juneteenth became recognized as a national holiday in 2021, this day has held an important place in American history ever since June 19, 1865, when more than 250,000 enslaved Black people in Texas were freed by executive decree. Even though Emancipation Day is anything but a new celebration, brands commemorating the holiday on social has peaked in recent years.

As with any social activation surrounding a social issue or cultural moment, brands need to first assess if they have earned the right to genuinely show up in this space by considering if the moment lines up with overall brand values and strategic direction, and if they have the credibility and the currency to become involved in such a passionate conversation.

When it comes to corporations addressing systemic racism and inequality, the one thing they can count on is that their audience will see right through any inauthentic attempts to jump on a bandwagon. Brands need to show a real understanding of what they are celebrating and why in order to honestly communicate about it with their consumers.

If your brand is planning on participating in and celebrating Juneteenth on social, consider the following steps:

Amplify Black voices.
While it’s important to celebrate Juneteenth on the day of, support for the Black community should be embedded in your company’s values all year long. Include Black creators in any relevant social campaigns throughout the year, sponsor events and causes within the Black community, share about those efforts consistently, and give space to Black employees to share their stories.

Make it about support, not sales. Juneteenth is not just another commercial opportunity. It is a day that carries so much historic significance, and it should be treated as such. It is a day to uplift and celebrate the Black community, not to try to make a profit. Don’t run a Juneteenth promotion or sale and don’t treat it as a theme. Use it as a day to educate yourself, your employees and your audience. Truly make it about the community you are supporting, not about your brand.

Stand firm in your beliefs. More often than not, anytime a corporation takes any type of stand, especially on social, there will be opposition. How are you prepared to handle any backlash against brand reputation if your participation does not go over well? Make sure all key stakeholders are on the same page when it comes to defending the content that is shared if negatively received by the opposing side and are aligned in the understanding that you will probably lose followers who disagree with you. Also be willing to receive constructive criticism if your participation is negatively received by the community you are trying to support. You must be willing to listen, learn and lead with empathy if you are called out.

At the end of the day, participation in Juneteenth is all about education, understanding and a commitment to truly supporting the Black community in all aspects of your corporation. Diversity and inclusion should not be used as performative marketing, but rather as a chance to grow and evolve from the inside out. Take a look at your overall company culture and make sure you’re not just talking the talk, but truly walking the walk.

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