Distilleries Battle Hate with Social Media Protest
With recent events rattling the nation both economically and socially, everyone seems to be on edge. American citizens are tired of being cooped up and isolated, business owners are worried their life's work will disappear before their eyes, black and other minority groups have had to endure repeated injustices throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the United States government is vacillating once again on how to control the apparent increase in new cases and deaths. On top of everything else, hatred and racist comments and posts are still common on social media - especially on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Considering everything that's going on, the best thing anyone could do right now is demonstrate their dedication to change through action - not words. And that's just what several major liquor companies have decided to do.
Pioneering the newest and greatest trend put out by a major corporation in a long time, three companies - Brown-Forman, Beam Suntory, and U.S. Distillery Caledonia Spirits have all joined forces with Johnnie Walker owner Diageo, Britvic, Mars, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Unilever, Ford and Adidas in pausing paid advertising on social media for the month of July as a month-long worldwide campaign to fight hate speech on social media platforms. The issue has raged for years on social media, with very little enforcement of Facebook's Community Standard Guidelines being issued when those comments pop up online.
In June, 2020, six organizations collaborated and issued a request to companies worldwide to battle the hate online.The six firms: the Anti-Defamation League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Sleeping Giants, Color of Change, Free Press and Common Sense, all issued a formal request stating, “act against hate and disinformation” being spread on Facebook through the Stop Hate for Profit campaign.
Beam Suntory has completely jumped on the 'justice bandwagon', stimulating a novel thought process among the older generation and promoting a movement among the younger crowd to protest against hatred and discrimination. They stated, “We stand up for what’s right, and we stand with all who are committed to the fight against hate speech, racism and prejudice. That’s why Beam Suntory is joining #StopHateForProfit, pausing all paid Facebook and Instagram advertising in the US across our brand portfolio throughout July." Although the long term effect of this online protest cannot yet be accurately gauged, Beam Suntory said, “We hope this collective action helps catalase positive change and accountability, and we will evaluate our advertising approach beyond July as we await Facebook’s response.”
Brown-Forman has opted to take it a step further. After selling three of their most notable brands to Sazerac Company, Inc., Brown-Forman made it clear earlier this year that they intend on focusing on their portfolio of products. This, of course, negates any potential marketing strategies (including online marketing campaigns and promotions, sales advertisements, targeted sales channels, and so on), supported by their confirmation that it would stop its paid global advertising indefinitely across its portfolio of brands, which includes Woodford Reserve Bourbon and Herradura Tequila, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Although paid global advertising has been removed from their business plan, the company will still look into possible future social media venues.
Timing could not have been better, in fact, for Brown-Forman. The company was in dire need of recreating the image for their line of products, attempting to move their spirits up into the top-shelf and premium categories. At the same time they wanted to demonstrate how offensive they find the issue of online hatred and profane, discriminatory comments. “Respect is at the core of who we are and how we operate. Brown-Forman is taking time to pause and reflect upon how we, along with our media partners, can be better and do better. During this time, we reiterate our belief that more can and should be done to address inequality, hate, and racism.” But the deeds don't stop there! Brown-Forman went even further and offered a generous donation to Chris Montana, the African-American founder of Du Nord Craft Spirits. Unfortunately, Chris Montana's warehouse was severely damaged during the anti-racism protests in Minneapolis. Hopefully, the assistance provided by Brown-Forman will aide Chris Montana in rebuilding his warehouse so his company can get through these hard times. The firm also said it would “explore and strengthen partnerships” with other distributors, suppliers, and agencies to bring more diversity to the alcohol industry.
Diageo, perhaps the largest liquor corporation in the world, announced in June of this year that it intended on pausing all global paid advertising, as well as social media advertising. Although Diageo jumped the gun ahead of Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman and Caledonia Spirits, their press release differed from the others in that it did not specify how long Diageo will be protesting on paid ads and social media; leaving everyone to wonder if Diageo just has yet to form a marketing strategy, agree on a date, or if they are waiting to see what happens in the market in the near future. Essentially, Diageo has made the same commitment that the prior three companies have made in collaboration with the six organizations that are attempting to create awareness for the hatred and racism constantly being endured on social media.
What does this mean? Well, for the month of July, you're not going to be flooded with a ton of ads on social media by the multitude of corporations seeking to soak you in their trendy marketing type. Instead, you're likely to see mostly individuals and small businesses (who are still advertising online) that are still going about their daily routine. From a realistic, scientific perspective - it is extremely difficult to change the habit or routine of an individual or person who has integrated that habit into their daily lives, especially if they are comfortable with it and it is considered socially acceptable.
The greatest challenge that society is going to face is not the changing of mind among the corporate entities who produce liquor (although that is important and helpful)...the most difficult trials and tribulations of this anti-hatred movement will be clear and evident during the process of finding a middle-ground with others who do not agree with the movement. Butting horns with the opposing side achieves nothing more than a throbbing headache; finding a commonality between sides and moving forward from there is likely a safe method of theological negotiation with alternate viewpoints at first. The process is going to be slow, and there will be a whole lot of bumps along the way.
Thankfully, and with much appreciation to the six organizations leading the way to a brighter future and the major liquor companies that are onboard, people now have a dynamic, solid platform to begin promoting awareness and conquering the hatred and social injustices that have gone unchecked for too long. Perhaps we can look back and reflect at how spirits have played an unimaginably important role throughout history; easing conflicts, bringing people together, creating joy and happiness, use in religious ceremonies,business and trade, and so on. Now we see that, once again through their company, spirits are being used to stimulate change and invest in positive growth for our next generation.