#BlackLivesMatter Is Changing Food Brands

The Lempert Report
August 14, 2020

As corporate America makes proclamations of support in advertising and social media, are they genuine?

Gushers and Fruit by the Foot, two General Mills fruit candies is using Twitter to announce their deep commitment to their customers.  “Gushers wouldn’t be Gushers without the Black community and your voices,” the brand’s tweet read. “We’re working with @fruitbythefoot on creating space to amplify that. We see you. We stand with you.”

Many iconic brands like Aunt Jemima, Cream of Wheat, Eskimo Pie and scores of others are changing their names and removing people of color from their packaging.  

Popeye’s Chicken stated that the company would use its “platform” to “support this movement.” Wendy’s claimed that its “voice would be nothing without Black culture” and promised to “amplify Black voices” on Twitter.

McDonald’s has actually worked hard to become essential to black cultural life, courting black franchisees, hiring black workers and investing in advertising directed at black consumers.

But now in the middle of a pandemic that disproportionately affects black people — McDonald’s workers who fear for their health are staging their own protests.

In May, McDonald’s workers in Chicago filed a class-action lawsuit, saying that the chain failed to keep them safe. And after 11 workers tested positive for Covid-19 at a McDonald’s in Oakland, Calif., employees walked out on strike. They demanded two-week paid quarantine periods, company-paid medical costs, a deep cleaning of infected spaces and basic personal protective equipment — the bare minimum to do their jobs safely.

So we have to ask, as corporate America makes these proclamations in advertising and social media, are they genuine? Are they being led by marketing? HR? By doing the right thing?