Racist Brand Mascots Persist Today; Agency Business Predictions: Friday’s First Things First

Plus, this is the year of the virtual prom

These brand mascots emerged between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Act. Cream of Wheat, Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben's
Headshot of Jess Zafarris

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These Brands Are Still Tapping Into Nostalgia for Slavery, Whether You Realize It or Not

Land O’Lakes finally retired the Native American woman from its logo after 92 years. Other brands, however, continue to use mascots modeled on racial stereotypes, with the most egregious examples rooted in nostalgia for slavery, representing the Aunt Jemima, Cream of Wheat and Uncle Ben brands that all emerged between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Act.

According to the Smithsonian, the 1857 Dred Scott v. John Sandford Supreme Court decision, in which Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote that people of African descent were not U.S. citizens and had no right to sue in federal court, helped spur these caricatures of African Americans in popular culture at the time—and enabled them to persist today.

Read more: Explore the history and evolution of these brand mascots, and why they remain in use today despite their problematic pasts.

  • Related: Retiring or evolving one of these long-standing racially charged mascots, like Fritos’ Frito Bandito or Miss Chiquita, is a challenging problem with no graceful solution. While Land O’Lakes retired its mascot quietly, some brands have made more public attempts, such as Mars’ $20 million move to promote Uncle Ben to chairman in 2007.

Is Agency New Business Back on Track? It Depends on Who You Ask

As pandemic-frozen agency business begins to thaw, opinions vary on how things will play out in the coming months.

Avidan Strategies’ Avi Dan thinks new business won’t pick up before late summer, but both he and other leaders said some categories will return to spending more quickly, including brands that have remained staples during the crisis and those associated with vices or cravings. He also predicted that the pandemic will accelerate trends such as in-housing and shape what clients are seeking in an agency. Mirren’s Brent Hodgins, predicted that meaningful access to clients may suffer if a new paradigm with remote pitching sticks.

Read more: Plus, extended payment terms—such as if a client went from 60 to 120 days—could be too much for smaller agencies.

2020 Is the Year of Virtual Proms and Graduations, With Help From Brands

As students in the U.S. are missing out on traditional graduation experiences, brands are stepping in with virtual proms and commencements.

Jack in the Box worked with digital experiential group Nice Sweater to host a prom with livestreamed experiences on Zoom, physical food deliveries and freebies like flowers, dresses and tuxes from sponsors. Other brands who have hosted events include group video chat platform Houseparty, American Eagle and Teen Vogue, Natural Light and digital media platform Her Campus.

Read more: The keys to success for these virtual bashes include larger-than life scale, name recognition and interactivity.

Consumer Behavior Shifts as the Covid-19 Era Progresses

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has changed consumer choices in many industries. Some, such as sellers of essentials and grocery items, have dealt with empty shelves due to panic-buying. Now, shoppers are leaning toward hoarding, opting for fewer trips and choosing just one grocery store for both food and non-edible products.

The alcohol industry appears to be splitting into two camps. Retail, DTC and delivery services are benefiting, while bars, restaurants and many alcohol brands themselves are struggling. Drizly’s Liz Paquette anticipates that demand for alcohol delivery will eventually cool as the crisis subsides, but on-demand culture will stick around for the industry.

The pandemic seems likely to accelerate the shift toward resale, according to Charles Gorra of accessory reseller Rebag, particularly as customers both seek to raise cash by selling their accessories and look for bargains by purchasing secondhand items.

Updates from Upfronts Week

  • The IAB’s 2020 Digital Content NewFronts has added even more presenters, including Snap and TikTok, lining up five days of presentations that span the streaming, social and gaming industries.
  • The CW has opted to delay most of its shows to January and pack its fall lineup with a mixture of acquired shows and other series. The CW won’t be holding any kind of upfront replacement event, and is focusing instead on its usual conversations and presentations with clients to discuss its strategy.

More of Today’s Top News and Highlights

Bacardi Dips Into Its Archives for a Lush and Leisurely Instagram Campaign

Bacardi survived Prohibition, in part thanks to free postcards featuring beautiful pieces of commercial artwork that added glamour to its already exotic concoctions. Now these vintage Bacardi ads are back as a new campaign on Instagram.

bacardi advertisements

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@JessZafarris jessica.farris@adweek.com Jess Zafarris (née Jessica Farris) is an audience engagement editor at Adweek.