Hi my fellow readers (if there are left at this point)! I want to again apologize that I haven’t been posting as frequently as I have in previous years. This year has been really rough and if you’re in a country where COVID19 cases still haven’t been going down (*cough*United States*cough)*, well, you know how I’m feeling.
Today I wanted to talk about a topic that I’ve been struggling with the past few months – brand alignment. It’s important to be me because as a brand ambassador for a few companies, I think it’s an issue that’s worth discussing especially with regards to the Black Lives Matter movement.
On February 23rd, Ahmed Arbery, an unarmed black man, who was running in his neighborhood was accosted and shot by Gregory and Travis McMichael, two white men. I don’t want to get too much into the details as it’s been re-hashed over and over again, but this incident along with several others (Killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Atatiana Jefferson, Tamir Rice, and many more) ignited the Black Lives Matter Movement.
On June 2nd, social media users were encouraged to post a black square to their social media profiles and hashtag #blackouttuesday. The concept originated from the music industry and news of the hashtag spread to any user on a social media platform, but it primarily was on Instagram. Many brands posted either a black square on that day or have since then posted some statement that they support the movement and/or are making changes to break down systemic racism.
Acceptance into a brand ambassador program and declining it
Fast forward to a few weeks later, I received news that I was accepted into an ambassador program. I had been monitoring their social media platforms in the past few months to see if they had made any statement and oddly enough, I didn’t find anything. I had reached out to their founder to ask what their stance was on the Black Lives Matter movement and although he said that he and their company do not tolerate racism and partner with groups that align with that same ideal, he also mentioned that he was at a loss on what to say on social media. I had suggested a few things such as more diversity of their audience on the social media platform or even a statement that said that they are working on having a plan in place to support the movement in one way or another. I understood that plans are not devised over night and a lot of thought go into plans and of course, plans can change. The issue I had was that there was no information on any of his social media channels (personal and company wise) that would have led me to have believed the company was pro or anti-BLM. I did look through years of posts so it wasn’t a hasty statement. I also explained that being silent on the issue also sends a message to their audience and that message to me personally was that the movement wasn’t worth posting about. After a few more email exchanges, my understanding of the situation was that he did not want to post on social media. I also understand that this is his right.
I thanked him for being open to having the conversation with me and I declined the ambassadorship. Believe me when I say that this was not an easy decision for me as I love supporting quality products and brands. However, I am also standing up for something that I believe is more important.
Alignment as a Brand Ambassador
As a brand ambassador, you are a representation of the brand, the products it sells, and the stances it does or does not take. I personally could not represent a brand that would not make any social media statement on issue that I thought was vital. Don’t get me wrong. I also see brands who have posted statements and have not taken any actions whatsoever. I also am trying to not associate myself with them as well. To be clear, I have no ill will for ambassadors of brands that I do necessarily align with. It is something to keep in mind though when applying to your next ambassadorship.
I have been very blessed to be a brand ambassador for both BibRave and Aftershokz, two companies that have been vocal about the movement and have made statements and taken actions to combat systemic racism. Bibrave created shirts like the one I’m wearing below and all of the proceeds were sent to the Equal Initiative Fund. They’re no longer available, if they ever, I will post about it on my IG. Aftershokz made an official statement on their website and have posted about it on their social media pages. I’ve linked to their official statement here.
So that about sums up my thoughts for the day. I hope that everyone is having as wonderful of a time as they can be given the circumstances. If you’re in an area that has few to no cases and can give your friends hugs, can you give them an extra one? I miss hugs. 😦
Bye for now!