Streamers Elevate Black Storytelling; Tea Brands Clap Back for BLM: Thursday’s First Things First

Plus, how publishers are evolving their marketing as the pandemic continues

Headshot of Jess Zafarris

Welcome to First Things First, Adweek’s daily resource for marketers. We’ll be publishing the content to First Things First on each morning (like this post), but if you prefer that it come straight to your inbox, you can sign up for the email here.

Netflix Releases Black Lives Matter Collection as Streamers Highlight Black Storytelling

After Netflix recognized increased search activity for George Floyd, the streamer began serving users a new collection called Black Lives Matter, which features 40 films and shows centered on Black experiences and storytellers, including the documentary 13th and the miniseries When They See Us, along with movies like Moonlight and Mudbound and series like Marvel’s Luke Cage. Other streamers, including Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max and Tubi, have also introduced new sections and collections dedicated to Black storytelling and racial injustice.

And these streamers are reading the room in more ways than one: Netflix’s BLM collection notably does not include The Help, which despite its Civil Rights-era setting, tells its story from a white perspective and was developed by white creators. Meanwhile, HBO Max pulled Gone With the Wind from its service.

An ongoing effort: The Netflix collection in particular is part of a preexisting push to create a broader category called Black Stories.

  • Networks are paying attention as well, canceling programming including Paramount Network’s series Cops and A&E’s police docuseries Live PD.

UK Tea Brands Respond to BLM Critics: ‘Please Don’t Buy Our Tea Again’

When two smug Twitter users noted that tea brands PG Tips and Yorkshire Tea hadn’t stated their support for protesters, both brands united with a blunt message that people who don’t believe Black Lives Matter should not buy their tea.

When rivals come together: See PG Tips’ response expressing #solidaritea with the movement.

Experiential Agencies and Clients Need to Be Honest and Intentional With Diversity Efforts

As part of a series asking talent from Black-owned agencies about next steps toward a more diverse industry, Adweek talked with Anika Grant, who founded Idlewild Experiential after noticing a lack of Black leadership in the experiential space. In addition to seeing more Black professionals in top agency positions, Grant said she advocates for more inclusion-focused mentorship opportunities to help young people break in, and for more brands to focus on working with Black agencies.

Creating change: Noticing that Idlewild was often pitched the same RFPs as other Black-owned agencies, Grant herself aimed to foster collaboration instead of competition and help get agencies noticed by creating an open source list of Black owners of companies in the event space.

Voice Perspectives on #BlackLivesMatter in Marketing and Advertising:

  • Oriel Pascal Davis-Lyons discusses “evergreen racism,” explaining the discomfort Black employees have been feeling for years and challenging white corporate America to embrace being uncomfortable and address racism head-on.
  • Theresa Howard argues that McDonald’s recent #BlackLivesMatters ad listing the names of victims of police brutality was shortsighted and hollow. “The ad tries to insert McDonald’s into this long-awaited and much-needed demand for change but instead shows the true colors not only of the company, but also of many other U.S. legacy corporations.”

Premium | Publishers Evolve Marketing to Keep Subscribers Brought in During Pandemic

The pandemic has prompted a surge in subscribers at news organizations, including paywalled ones like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. To retain those new users, experts say they’ll need to demonstrate how non-Covid reporting will add the same degree of value to a subscription in the future, and why that unique coverage can’t be found elsewhere. Media organizations have especially been focusing on advertising on social media, bringing in a new cohort of users and providing an opportunity to forge an ongoing connection with a different sort of reader—if publishers can draw the right conclusions and respond to their preferences.

New marketing strategies: Experts suggest focusing on a commitment to truth, verification and freedom of speech and expression.

Dive deeper with an Adweek Pro Subscription, your key to the inside scoop on the marketing and advertising trends and reporting that guide the world’s top brands. 

More of Today’s Top News and Highlights

Boy Smells Fires Up a First for Pride Month: The Nonbinary Scented Candle

Nonbinary candle company Boy Smells is partnering with LGBTQ luminaries to launch an online marketing campaign across social media and its blog timed to Pride Month. Beyond touting its non-gender-specific products, the campaign includes discussions around identity, including creative and professional identity.

Quote of the Day: Creativity As a Catalyst

As one of the 11 Global Agency Leaders honored in our Creative 100, Marie-Elaine Benoit of Canadian agency Sid Lee addressed the power of creativity to fuel the world’s recovery from the pandemic. Meet all of the honorees in this category.

More of the Latest

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