So, Red Bull has just been exposed for racism after using a wildly offensive image in a presentation reported by Business Insider, and TBH at this stage am I surprised?
The slide was reportedly shown at a presentation by the company’s US culture marketing team in Detroit, despite being told earlier not to use the image. This happened in February, but given the current #BlackLivesMatter movement and talks around company racism, it’s resurfaced, and hoo boy.
The leaked slide shows a world map with offensive and racist stereotypes about other countries. It labels China as the place where “they make our stuff”, India as “call centres” and Canada as “uninhabited.”
Even more outrageously (if that were possible), they label Africa as where “zoo animals come from” and the Middle East as “evil-doers” with an arrow saying that “bombs go here.”
Over the map of the USA has the words “We’re #1” across it. Typical.
This slide is INSANE. Great example of a big brand dealing w/ backlash over a racist slide shown at an internal mtg, how their HR team has been dealing with #diversity and inclusion complaints, and how their PR team is now attempting damage control. https://t.co/l6FDUhcawJ
— Gooblythe (@gooblythe) June 25, 2020
The presentation was shown to over 100 delegates, and people naturally horrified. Apparently an employee reported it to HR, and nothing came of it – hence the leak to Business Insider.
According to Business Insider, employees have complained numerous times in the past about similar issues and were told they were “overly emotional.” Hmm, sounds like racial gaslighting to me, but okay.
There are media reports saying that employees have been frustrated with Red Bull‘s lack of action around Black Lives Matter, which the Austrian company has labelled a local issue.
Now, the company is in a bit of a shit-storm as they try to to do PR damage control, releasing a statement claiming they don’t condone the slide and reject racism.
“We need to reflect this in our business and daily lives. We acknowledge we have work to do,” a spokeswoman said.
“We have dedicated internal and external resources to continue to drive towards a more inclusive work environment through education and awareness, including employee training that is currently underway. Further, Red Bull has harassment, discrimination and retaliation policies in place and investigates all complaints thoroughly.”
So far the claim that Red Bull takes discrimination complains thoroughly doesn’t align with what employees have told media, but I guess we’ll wait and see?
Heaps Of Companies Engage In Performative Activism To Boost Sales When They Are Actually Pretty Racist
This controversy came at a pretty spicy time where companies are getting called out everywhere for pretending to be against racism while actively perpetuating it.
Just recently, Black trans model Munroe Bergdorf called out L’Oreal Paris for posting #BlackLivesMatter content after firing her for calling out racism.
View this post on Instagram
Excuse my language but I am SO angry. FUCK YOU @lorealparis. You dropped me from a campaign in 2017 and threw me to the wolves for speaking out about racism and white supremacy. With no duty of care, without a second thought. I had to fend for myself being torn apart by the world’s press because YOU didn’t want to talk about racism. You even tried to get me to incriminate myself with pairing me up with your shady lawyers, when I had done NOTHING wrong. THAT is what you get for ‘speaking out’ when employed by @lorealparis. Racist snakes. You do NOT get to do this. This is NOT okay, not even in the slightest. I said just yesterday that it would only be a matter of time before RACIST AF brands saw a window of PR opportunity to jump on the bandwagon. Fuck you. Fuck your ‘solidarity’. Where was my support when I spoke out? Where was my apology? I’m disgusted and writing this in floods of tears and shaking. This is gaslighting. If you care about me or #blacklivesmatter, don’t let @lorealparis get away with this.
Instagram call out account Diet Prada has been doing God’s work, exposing several companies for both outright and underlying racism and suppression, including Vogue, Starbucks and Zimmerman. They also brought up Louis Vuitton using rainbows and Pride aesthetics without acknowledging Pride Month or the LGBT community.
In a hyper-politicised time like today, let’s remember to always hold these crisis PR responses under intense scrutiny – because most of the time, they’re full of shit.
Image Sources: Instagram @Diet_Prada, @munroebergdorf, Twitter @gooblythe