Black Lives Matter: When Wicked Problems Intersect

Last night, the President of the United States hid in a bunker and turned off the lights at the White House.

Not since the murder of MLK has the USA seen such conflagration in the streets of its cities (140 and counting at this point). We are back at Charlottesville, except now it’s the entire country that’s engulfed in the flames.

source: New York Times

And in the middle of all of this is a movement for justice: Black Lives Matter.

What does this have to do with brand activism? In our book – Brand Activism: From Purpose to Action – we say that justice is the marketing strategy of the future.

In the past, we saw companies like Ben and Jerry’s stand behind Black Lives Matter:

Now, companies like Nike, Twitter, Netflix, and Citigroup have aligned themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Here’s a statement from Nike:

And Nordstrom:

HBO added #BlackLivesMatter to its Twitter handle:

Twitter did the same:

More importantly, Twitter took a stand against Trump’s demagoguery by putting up “alert” tags on questionable tweets from the President:


The same post on Facebook went unchallenged.

The contrasting styles of the Twitter and Facebook CEOs was highlighted by the New York Times: “Jack Dorsey, chief executive of Twitter, took to his site not long after to say Twitter would not back down, presenting a stark contrast to Mr. Zuckerberg, who, in an interview a day earlier with Fox News, said Facebook wasn’t going to judge Mr. Trump’s posts.”

Facebook employees, however, had a different take. Dozens of Facebook employees protested executives’ decision not to do anything about inflammatory posts from President Trump.

Later, to his credit, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did make this statement about the Black community and injustice:

All of this leads us to the challenges ahead. There is no “new normal” after COVID-19. The US is now challenged by three wicked problems at once. Soon it will be four, or more: COVID-19, Income Inequality, Racism and Extremism, and soon – Climate events (there’s a hurricane in the Gulf).

Peter Turchin warned us that the 2020s would be a period of unrest and political violence. In 2016, he wrote: “…most social scientists and political commentators tend to focus on a particular slice of the problem. It’s not broadly appreciated that these developments are all interconnected. Our society is a system in which different parts affect each other, often in unexpected ways.”

That is why progressive, brand-activist businesses must come together now to work on society’s most urgent problems. We call these problems the Wicked Seven, and have begun working on them. Join us.

Finally, consider this. If you thought L.A.’s Rodney King riots were bad, what happens if Derek Chauvin is let off the hook for the murder of George Floyd?

Justice is the strategy we need now – economic, social, and environmental.