black lives matter protestors

Marketers must wakeup to Black Lives Matter

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has caused introspection on the part of agencies and companies to identify inherent racism in their marketing. Watching the protests unfold on CNN, it's clear that there's a broad coalition, in addition to Blacks, who want to support the fight against racism. The protestors' demands will not be satisfied with mere tokenism, like this parody tweet by Christopher Franklin.

Boilerplate can be a liability. If a brand's statements conflict with a company's actions internally or in the marketplace, social media will sniff them out and hold them up for ridicule faster than it takes to drop an emoji.

Why BLM matters for marketers

Now that the movement has surfaced wealth, income, and healthcare disparities between whites and blacks, BLM has become a force in determining brand preference – or lack of it.

Only 34% of workers strongly agree with their company's stance, and actions regarding George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement

Prospects, customers, current and future employees will want to know about pay equality, opportunities for advancement, healthcare disparities between blacks, whites, Latinx, and other minorities will look to your websites and deeds to assess your company's commitment to diversity. They'll note the composition of their account team and their attitude toward blacks and other minorities. And being multicultural is just good business. According to a Pew poll, most Americans support all or parts of the BLM agenda.

chart compares races of agency employees

The high cost of blunders

Experts believe that a lack of diversity in companies and agencies cultivates an environment where spectacular screwups can happen. Major brands are no exception. Adidas fielded an all-white "Uncaged" shoe in its Black History Month collection. The backlash was immediate. Volkswagen's head-scratching Instagram spot by the German ad agency, Volga, is a case in point. The video shows a black man depicted as the puppet of a giant white hand. It also includes a German racial slur for blacks. Gucci's black-and-red-mouthed balaclava sweater drew comparisons to blackface, while Nivea launched a campaign themed " White Purity ." Problems can emerge in product development, too. These companies have the resources to recall products, handle the fallout, apologize, and make new ads. These ads are examples of fails and gaffs, which expose brands to ridicule on social media, damage reputations, and worse. If all racism were that blatant, none of our clients or readers would greenlight it.

Words matter. Use them carefully

We need to hone-in on a much more nuanced level to weed out inherent racism in our copy. They're words that white people learned without the context of their original meaning. Master/slave . A phrase used by software engineers describes the relationship between software and hardware when one controls the other. Twitter, JP Morgan, and other companies are eliminating the language. Blacklist/whitelist . A blacklist refers to a directory of specific elements, such as email addresses or URLs, that are blocked. In other words, white is good and allowed, and black is not. Grandfathered in : This legal term is the "grandfather clause" adopted by seven Southern states during the Reconstruction Era. The phrase applies to some person or entity, which were allowed to maintain an older or privileged standard when a law or rule is changed. Established in 1867 exempted whites from literacy requirements originally imposed on blacks to prevent them from voting. In 1867, it was white people who were exempted from the literacy tests meant to prevent blacks from voting, which they didn't receive until the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1879.

The Fifteenth Amendment — "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

Sold down the river . This phrase, along with "thrown under the bus" is used to describe painful betrayals. The origin of the phrase harkens back to the 1800s, when Black slaves were literally sold down the river, and used for brutal labor that often ended in death.

Where do we go from here?

There are apps, consultants, and agencies that specialize in multicultural communications. Multiculturalism and equality are the new reality, but it's not something to which we can just pay lip service. We need to pay our dues by educating ourselves, and diversifying our workplaces with people of different races, ethnicities, and genders.

For additional reading, visit these links below

Understanding racism and inequality in America ( Washington Post

Find the complete Black Lives Agenda here

The black live matters releases policy agency ( NBC News )

Bill Abramovitz
company guidelines for social media

Employee Guidelines for Sharing Social Media

When employees share posts from your business or practice's social media feeds, that's a great thing! Employees can amplify your good news, reaching potential new customers, and getting you good brand recognition.

Put some guidelines in place, so your employees know the ground rules when sharing company content.

  • Be honest about their affiliation with the business or practice.
  • Make it clear that any views expressed are their own.
  • While the employee speaks for themselves, if they're sharing company content, their actions also represent those of the business, so play nice.
  • The Internet is a public space, and it remembers…forever.
  • Respect the privacy of offline conversations and always remember HIPAA.
  • Push business inquiries to the appropriate people.
  • Use your common sense and, when in doubt, ask.

Ben Singleton

the problem with COVID public health advertising

Is COVID-19 messaging too nice?

The U.S. set another record today in the COVID-19 - 4 million cases nationwide. With all due respect to news producers, we're not "all in this together." The statistics obscure the individual pain of survivors, the dead, and the guilt-ridden who gave it to someone else.

Reality is called for here, not kumbaya. Show patients stuck on gurneys in hospital hallways; the people who survived COVID-19 who may wish they hadn't; and the guilt of asymptomatic sons and daughters who fatally infected a loved one. We need to pull out the guilt, shame, and fear playbook.

Friends, family, and co-workers have a role, too. Be blunt about risky behavior, safety needs, and theirs, and get clear about the risks. Young people need to know that the guilt of infecting a brother or sister might be worse than contracting the virus themselves. And marketers can help by modeling these conversations.

Marketers should pluck out the shame, guilt, and embarrassment cards that helped turn the tide during the AIDS outbreak, the war on drugs, and numerous anti-smoking campaigns. We need to develop a healthy paranoia about COVID safety, the dangers of laughing at a good joke, singing with a choir, or yelling and how they can become super-spreading incidents.

We're not "all in this together" anymore than we're all together in traffic fatalities. It's up to everyone to protect themselves from the pain of dying or surviving the virus, and the guilt of passing it to someone else. No, it's not nice, but it is necessary.

Bill Abramovitz
decision fatigue - looking at swatches

Conquer Decision Fatigue to Make Your Brain Happy

So, what is decision fatigue? You know that feeling you get when your brain is overwhelmed by tasks, data, and decision making to the point where you're standing in your closet with no idea what to wear, and if someone asks you again what's for dinner, you might just scream? That's decision fatigue.

And in the information-flooded world we live in, it's becoming a real problem, taxing overworked minds, breeding insomniacs, and stressing us out. The more you multitask and the more choices you make, the more difficult it is for your brain to make even simple decisions.

Here are some methods you can use to give your noggin' a break at work.

  • Don't let email, texts, and social media notifications disrupt a task. Close your email window, silence the phone, and focus.
  • Prioritize important tasks first, one at a time. Try to finish big projects before tackling another.
  • Write stuff down. We're big fans of list-making, and it helps keep us on track. Plus, it feels so good to cross things off the list.
  • Slow down. Give yourself permission to take your time. It's amazing how quality improves when you don't have to rush.
  • Don't be afraid to delegate. If there's a task someone else can handle and the have the bandwidth, hand it off.
  • Mindfulness. Bring your attention to the present moment once in a while, and take deep breaths that reduce stress and improve productivity.
  • Take breaks and engage with the people around you. Even introverts are social creatures and need human contact. And pets are good, too.
  • Sneak in some exercise. Or yoga. Or stretching. A brisk walk can be just the ticket to improve your mood.
  • Turn off the news occasionally and limit the doom scrolling through social media. It's important to be informed but give your brain a break.

Ben Singleton

Taglines for healthcare marketing

What makes a great tagline?

Taglines and slogans for corporations and brands are a handful of words that appear under a logo. Usually, they're useless and peppered with vague phrases like quality, excellence, world's best, the global leader, or making widgets since 1901, or a personal favorite, 500 years of combined experience.

So, here are over-arching suggestions (not rules) that we use.

The line should resonate with your audience as a benefit and internally as the truth. You can't tagline your way out of a marketing problem. If your service is smoking cessation, you need to move the humidor from the waiting room to the back room.

If possible, work in an emotional hook. Nike's "Just do it' mantra speaks to the aspiration of real athletes and the couch potato versions. And Arby's campaign "We Have All the Meats" speaks to the dreams of hard-core carnivores right in the gut." It says, don't come here for pita and hummus. The aim of product taglines, which should not conflict with the corporate line, should express the marketing strategy and a tangible benefit, for example, P&Gs line for Tide' Tide's In - Dirt's Out" and Best Buy's aggressive slogan Best Buy's "Try it out before buying it on Amazon."

When in doubt, make the tagline literal, "Empowering People to Improve Their Lives" from Acadia Hospital." Granted, it could be more interesting, but it does a great job of telling us what the brand is all about.

Rhythm is another tool for driving a slogan's message home, like Iambic pentameter. Think of the opening theme of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, ta ta ta duh.

So, here's the gauntlet we run our taglines through.

  • Is it relevant to the brand?
  • Does it touch on a patient's or doctor's emotional needs?
  • Can you say it quickly out loud? Can you see yourself shouting it?
  • Is it sing-songy or cute? (Those don't wear well!)
  • Is it original in your hospital or medical device category? Can you trademark it?
  • Are you comfortable with using it as the lead slide of a presentation?
  • Is the line competitive, and does it differentiate you from your competition?
  • Does it ring true? Can you back it up with facts, qualitative research, or simple observation of your medical device?
  • How would others ridicule your name?
  • And, will it pass a multicultural test? Is the meaning mangled when translated into another language, and will if offend minorities or other groups?
Bill Abramovitz
summer beers

Try a shandy, gose, or a wheat beer, and stay cool

Here we are smack dab in the middle of summer. The heat and humidity making us almost too languid to get off the couch and grab a beer from the fridge come quittin' time. Almost.

But summer calls for a beer that's a little lighter, a little crisper than brews we enjoy the rest of the year – crisp lagers, tangy goses, and maybe even a radler or shandy.

Here's a list of seasonal tipples that would be perfect for an afternoon in the hammock.

Otra Vez from Sierra Nevada You can't go wrong with a beer from Sierra Nevada. This Gose-style beer is no exception. Lime and blue agave nectar bring a sweet-tart zing to this wheat beer.

Mai Time Wheat Ale from Kona Brewing Another wheat ale that boasts orange, pineapple and lime for a taste that reminds us of Tiki drinks in an island paradise.

Coolcumber from Wicked Weed Brewing Cucumbers and summer go together like - well - like beer and summer. If you dig cucumbers (plus juniper and basil), give this one a try. If you don't dig cucumbers, avoid it like you'd avoid a sneeze in the grocery store.

Grapefruit Radler from Stiegl This Austrian import is a mix of beer and grapefruit soda. Light, refreshing, a little sweet, and a little tart. Is it wrong to think of this as a "breakfast beer?"

Summer Shandy from Leinenkugel Beer plus lemonade…abomination, you say? Nah, brah, this is just the ticket for your post-lawn-mowing refreshment.

Oberon from Bell's Brewery Oberon is our classic summer standby. Light and crisp, this wheat beer screams fun in the sun and has been around long enough to make it easy to find.

Not a beer drinker.? Try our Summer Solstice Sipper Cocktail