PepsiCo Retires Aunt Jemima; 30 Rock Cast Reunites: Wednesday’s First Things First

Plus, is the US still stuck in the 1960s?

PepsiCo is retiring the controversial brand name and mascot, Aunt Jemima. Aunt Jemima
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After 131 Years, PepsiCo Is Dropping Aunt Jemima

Spurred by ongoing racial justice protests, Quaker Oats Company parent PepsiCo is retiring its controversial brand name and mascot, Aunt Jemima, acknowledging that the brand is based on a racial stereotype (Aunt Jemima wasn’t the only mascot in this category). The company said it will rebrand the line of pancake mix and syrup, removing the image of Aunt Jemima from its packaging in Q4 and announcing a name change at a later date. PepsiCo hasn’t specified details of the rebrand yet, but suggested that it will reflect “the goal of representing loving moms from diverse backgrounds.” Aunt Jemima is among a few extant mascots that leverage slavery- and Jim Crow-era stereotypes.

Related: PepsiCo plans to spend over $400 million to support the Black community and increase internal representation.

NBCUniversal Reunites 30 Rock Cast to Host Its Upfront Special Next Month, on NBC

Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and more from the cast of hit sitcom 30 Rock will return for an hourlong reunion special on July 16. The episode, which will also feature guest appearances from stars of other NBCUniversal programming, doubles as the company’s upfront presentation, a move that aims to satisfy both audiences and marketers.

The reunion announcement followed the unveiling of NBC’s fall lineup, which keeps six nights intact from last season and makes only one adjustment to introduce a Law & Order spinoff featuring Christopher Meloni as Elliott Stabler. All of its new shows, including Mr. Mayor, Keenan and True Story, will move ahead as planned. The network also said it’s hiring an additional “diverse writer” for all scripted shows in the upcoming season to address racial injustice protests. Explore the full lineup.

Also in NBCU News:

A running joke in Late Night with Seth Meyers, which is currently being filmed from his attic at home, has centered on The Thorn Birds, a romance novel that sits on a table behind Meyers’ desk, with gags including multiplying and disappearing copies and changes to the cover. Watch: Adweek compiled the best Thorn Birds moments.

Seth Meyers was one of the guests at today’s Adweek @ Home virtual event on the Future of TV. Don’t miss tomorrow’s Adweek @ Home programming, including This Conversation Can’t Wait: An Unfiltered Discussion of Agencies and Race, starting at noon ET.

More TV & Streaming News:

Advertisers Now Have a New Keyword Concern: ‘Protest’

Just as advertisers have started dialing back keyword blocking of pandemic-related terms, many have opted to block protest-related keywords including “demonstration,” “rioting” and “Black Lives Matter.” But experts advise them not to overcorrect with the knee-jerk reaction that could come with opportunity costs, considering consumers who flock to hard news typically don’t think poorly of brands just for advertising on the same page. There’s often little strategy behind the identification of supposedly risky keywords and topics.

Behind the Scenes of Cannes’ First Virtual Show, Lions Live

Following the in-person festival’s cancellation due to the pandemic, Cannes Lions is going virtual—and free!—June 22-26. We talked with managing director Simon Cook to get an inside look at Lions Live and learn about the strategy and presentation of the event, which won’t look like your average Zoom webinar and will include films, masterclasses, debates, networking opportunities and more. Plus, learn about plans for the event’s return to France in 2021.

Premium | Amazon Could End Up as an Unlikely Winner of the Retail Apocalypse

As many retailers file for bankruptcy, deep-pocketed Amazon appears to be eyeing them as an opportunity. Rumor has it that the company has expressed interest in buying out JCPenney—and there are many other struggling brands to choose from. Amazon has been cautious about experiments, but is motivated by an ecommerce-fueled 74% uptick in Walmart’s Q1 earnings.

For Adweek Pro Members: Experts say a venture with JCPenney probably wouldn’t look like its Whole Foods acquisition.

Read more with an Adweek Pro Subscription, your key to the inside scoop on the marketing and advertising trends and reporting that guide the world’s top brands. 

More of Today’s Top News and Highlights

Is America Still in the 1960s? This Video Shows Civil Rights Is Still a Struggle

A new video, created as a passion project by a trio of 72andSunny New York staffers, highlights how what happened 60 years ago during the Civil Rights Movement is eerily similar to what’s playing out on streets across America in 2020.

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@JessZafarris Jess Zafarris is an audience engagement editor at Adweek.