Uncle Ben’s to Change Racist Branding; Why Purple Works for Streamers: Thursday’s First Things First

Plus, the duo behind the 600-signatory "Call for Change" launches a nonprofit for Black ad pros

Illustration: Dianna McDougall, Amira Lin; Sources: Roku, Quibi, HBO Max
Headshot of Jess Zafarris

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Uncle Ben’s to Change ‘Visual Brand Identity’ Following Aunt Jemima News

Shortly after PepsiCo announced its intention to retire the Aunt Jemima brand due to its basis in a Jim Crow-era racial stereotype, Mars Foods-owned rice brand Uncle Ben’s announced its own plans to revamp its visual identity. A Mars representative said plans had already been under way before the news about Aunt Jemima, but similarly, the announcement did not detail specific plans. “Uncle” was a disparaging term for Black men during the Jim Crow era, when the brand was developed, and visual elements of the mascot are additionally racially problematic. The brand attempted to downplay the racial connotation in 2007 without success.

Analysis | Why Streamers Have Embraced Purple, Usually a Divisive Color for Brands

First, the streamers jumped on board the “Plus” train for their streaming service names. Now, there’s a trend in the branding as the color purple has allowed streaming brands Quibi, HBO Max and Roku to stand out in the streaming space and among the blues and whites most often seen in app stores. Plus, unlike blue and red, purple hasn’t been widely used in branding in the tech space, aside from Yahoo and Monster, and the color differentiates these brands from streaming predecessors like Netflix with its iconic red.

Plus, it’s a psychological boon for brands: “Purple connotes energy in a really pleasing way,” said branding expert Joe Tradii. As a blend of red and blue, it combines the aggressive energy of the former and the calm of the latter. Purple has traditionally been a color more often associated with food and drink companies.

  • Also in Streaming: Disney’s new Advertising Platforms team, which will be led by Hulu’s visionary ad chief Jeremy Helfand, extends Hulu’s existing ad tech and innovation across Disney’s entire footprint.

Black Advertising Professionals Behind Open Letter Launch Nonprofit, Find an Ally in 4A’s

Advertising pros Nathan Young and Bennett D. Bennett, who spearheaded the creation of a public call for equity in agencies with more than 600 signatories, have now formed a nonprofit, 600 & Rising, and secured a partnership with the 4A’s. They described it as “the first organization solely dedicated to the advocacy and advancement of Black advertising employees.” They’re already surveying Black ad professionals about ways to move forward, developing standards for reporting diversity data, and developing a 90-day timetable for D&I reforms.

Young also appeared as a panelist during an urgent discussion around issues of race in advertising Wednesday as part of our Adweek @ Home series. Don’t miss today’s Elevate: Creativity and Experiential event, the latest in the programming of this weeklong series.

Agencies Address Diversity and Inclusion

The Final 2020 NewFronts Schedule Is Here

Less than a week ahead of the first NewFronts presentations, the IAB finally released the full schedule. Hosted by HQ Trivia alum Scott Rogowsky and daily co-hosts, the week will feature live and prerecorded events by returning presenters including YouTube and Hulu, as well as first-timers such as Roku, Snap and TikTok. Many had already been confirmed, but there are new programs on the schedule include a diversity town hall. Check out the full schedule here.

More of Today’s Top News and Highlights

Ad of the Day: Ad Council PSA Questions What Freedom Means for Black Americans

In a new PSA that’s part of “Love Has No Labels,” the ongoing movement promoting acceptance and inclusion of all people, the Ad Council and R/GA have created a powerful PSA that illustrates the disparities in freedoms for white and Black people in America.

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@JessZafarris jessica.zafarris@adweek.com Jess Zafarris is an audience engagement editor at Adweek.