‘Wrong side of history’: Brands remain (mostly) silent on #BlackLivesMatter

Brands and agencies are gradually starting to get involved with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, but still much more slowly and less universally than they have historically embraced other progressive causes, most recently LGBT rights.

According to Brandwatch, both the hashtag and the written-out phrase has 2.6 million mentions in the last two weeks — and almost no brands are using it. Of the top 100, verified organizational Twitter accounts, only news outlets are tweeting the phrase.

“This is the civil rights movement of our day,” said Alysha Light, founder of Flight PR in Los Angeles. “These companies all have employees that are indirectly or directly affected by what is going on.”

And yet, brands have been so quick to jump on other causes. When the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage last year, brands from Ben & Jerry’s to Target to Honey Maid all jumped on board, tweeting messages of #LoveWins and changing avatars to rainbow flags.

Those same brands are noticeably silent on #BlackLivesMatter, with the exception of Uber, Facebook, Twitter and a few others. This is particularly surprising after a week that saw two police killings of black men — Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Minneapolis — as well as the killings of five police officers in Dallas and countless protests.