Marketing Expert Bonin Bough on Brand Statements’ about Black Live Matter

In an interview with Inc.’s Kimberly Weisul Former Chief Media and eCommerce Officer at Mondelēz International Bonin Bough spoke out about the recent clamor of brands everywhere to be a part of the Black Lives Matter movement. Some efforts to support the movement may not be as great for the company’s PR as they were hoping. 

With this movement, the Black community as well as allies want change. They are protesting in the streets, withstanding tear gas and rubber bullets to bring out actual, tangible change. So, it comes as no surprise that Brands releasing statements in support of the BLM movement are being scrutinized. Anyone can say they stand with you, but are they making changes that align with uplifting the Black community? 

Bonin makes it very clear that right now action means everything. He even goes as far as to say companies doing nothing, companies who aren’t committed to long term racial equality, shouldn’t speak. Unless your team is implementing new ways to recruit or promote Black employees or finding some other way to approach the matter, then “standing with us” doesn’t mean anything. 

The companies who rushed to push out a message saying “I’m not racist,” look hollow and their statements look performative and opportunistic. Bonin asks, “How are you supporting people, donating, hiring, making board appointments?”

Once your team has figured out how to support the Black community, “then it becomes about who you partner with. What expectations do you have with those you do business with? What does your community look like?”

When asked about Washington’s mayor painting Black Lives Matter on the street where Trump tear-gassed citizens for a photo op, Bonin replied, “I don’t care about the photo-op with the Bible. What I care about is the photo-op with the cabinet. At this most sensitive moment to stand up and suggest the leadership in our own nation doesn’t look like what we want it to look like–those are the images that are subliminal and wrong. If you’re afraid to show that photo of your leadership, fix it.” 

If your company is all white and you’re preaching about Black Lives Mattering, it’s time to put your HR rep where your formulaic press release is.