Protesters Demand More From Brands; Honoring Experiential Excellence: Monday’s First Things First

Plus, 4 emerging trends in advertising

Nike's latest ad challenges people to combat racism in America. Nike
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 Adweek.com each morning (like this post), but if you prefer that it come straight to your inbox, you can sign up for the email here.

Brands Are Increasingly Supporting #BlackLivesMatter, But Advocates Want More Than Words

As clashes between protesters and police have escalated across the country following the death of George Floyd, many brands joined the chorus of voices calling for an end to racism and police brutality—a step most have been unwilling to take in the past. Nike was one of the first, releasing a simple but hard-hitting ad featuring calls to action such as “Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America.” Reebok, Ben & Jerry’s and lifestyle brands Pretty Little Thing and Milk Makeup also spoke up on social media.

But equality advocates are demanding more than just words, responding on social with “open your purse.” Lewis Williams, CCO and evp at Burrell Communications, says consumers expect brands to offer something measurable to the cause. Some, like YouTube and Glossier, have pledged donations to address social justice issues, while others have stopped at statements.

Seeking assistance: Mass unemployment, stress from the pandemic and a lack of help from government entities have consumers seeking solutions from brands.

Why Demonstrators Protesting the Death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Keyed In on Target

Last Wednesday and Thursday, protests involved the looting of several stores in Minneapolis, the city at the center of the conflict, with Target getting the most attention. The store was not chosen at random. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Target has a history of supporting the city’s police, including donating $300,000 for surveillance cameras and hosting initiatives with the department. It also settled a 2015 hiring discrimination complaint that said it weeded out applicants based on race, gender and ability.

Dive deeper: Plus, locals said this specific location, which is by a police station, was targeted because employees allegedly refused to sell supplies to aid those exposed to chemical irritants.

Adweek’s Second Annual Experiential Awards Winners

The Adweek team has been delighted to look back on a wholly different world, unlimited by social distancing, to discover the most exciting and imaginative experiential marketing campaigns and activations of the past year.

Giant Spoon earned three top honors—Experiential Agency of the Year, Executive of the Year (executive director of experiential Patrick Jong) and Rising Star of the Year—for its work on more than two dozen physical events, including its massively ambitious Game of Thrones experience at 2019’s SXSW and immersive experiences at Comic-Con and CES focusing on shows NBC sitcoms and Westworld.

Other honorees were OutFront Media and Posterscope, which worked with Comedy Central to take over the New York 7 train to promote the series Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens. UEG Worldwide and Edelman worked with Taco Bell to launch a “dream destination” themed after the restaurant, and Droga5 celebrated 10 years of Angry Birds by creating anger-powered scooters that moved faster the louder their riders yelled.

Immerse yourself: Discover all of the winners of the 2nd Annual Experiential Awards.

4 Emerging Trends Marketers Are Leaning Into Right Now

The brand marketing community has identified a few key trends that will provide crucial opportunities as we recover from this crisis and identify a path forward:

  • Real and raw production: Campaigns created from home have resulted in brands and consumers opeting for less polished campaigns and TV shows, including Walmart’s employee-centric ads and John Krasinski’s online series Some Good News.
  • Reliance on user-generated content: Consumers are seeking out relatability and humanity, making UGC a key part of many campaigns, such as Buffalo Wild Wings’ spot about people playing made-up sports at home.
  • Levity and optimism reign: As the world opens back up, consumers are responding well to humor, and brands are embracing that, both on social media and in ads, from Coors Light giving away free beer to Progressive making fun of Zoom calls.

Explore more: Many brands have also taken on the challenge of making digital experiences meaningful.

More Top News & Highlights

Popeyes Unveils Refreshed Logo and New Restaurant Design

After last year’s chicken sandwich wars, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen achieved celebrity status. Now it’s unveiling a brand refresh featuring a simplified, more mature version of the classic logo, along with updates to its restaurants, with work by design firm Jones Knowles Ritchie.


@JessZafarris jessica.zafarris@adweek.com Jess Zafarris is an audience engagement editor at Adweek.
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