Brands are not our friends. But they are still influential – and what they do can help sway public opinion.
Which is why Sainsbury’s decision to publicly support Black History Month carries weight.
The supermarket posted a statement on social media last week, announcing that they would “not tolerate racism,” and that “anyone who does not want to shop with an inclusive retailer is welcome to shop elsewhere”.
Basically: racists, here’s the door.
Over the weekend, Sainsbury’s statement went viral, boosted further by pushback from high-profile right wingers who announced they were “boycotting” the chain.
Which was confusing, given it was essentially what Sainsbury’s had invited people to do in the first place if they didn’t want to shop with them.
But it didn’t stop there.
Sainsbury’s decided to firmly maintain their stance and not bend, despite the efforts from some people to force a U-turn.
And now they’re winning praise for their thoughtful social media responses about the issue.
Broadcaster James O’Brien posted a screenshot of an interaction on Facebook between ‘Chris’, who was writing on behalf of the Sainsbury’s account and a social media user who asked why there was no “white history day”.
In response, Chris wrote:
At present there is no nationally recognised day or month called White History month and in an ideal world we wouldn’t need a specific month to celebrate any group of people because we would all be celebrated equally and at all times.
Instead it could be said that it is more common for us to celebrate the achievements and historical contributions of white than any other ethnic or racial group.
Therefore to expand our view of the world, it is helpful for us to have specific days and months of focus for other ethnic groups that have been historically oppressed or marginalised.
Chris’ measured and informative reply has gone down well.
People said they’d now be shopping at Sainsbury’s.
And that it was a great example of companies properly taking corporate responsibility.
And there were calls to give Chris a raise.
Looks like they might have gained more customers than they’re ‘losing’...