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The Juneteenth wake-up call: why brands still get it wrong

June 16, 2022

Juneteenth is right around the corner, offering brands plenty of opportunities to connect with people of color. Most are too afraid to take it, worried they'll screw up. And considering Walmart's recently bungled Juneteenth ice cream, they're right to be cautious.

Yet Nicole Simpson, newly appointed director of diversity, equity and inclusion at the agency Rapp, says brands shouldn't be afraid to try.

Marketing Daily: Juneteenth became a federal holiday last year after years of efforts by activists. Why are marketers reluctant to attach brands to these widespread celebrations?

Nicole Simpson: I understand brands being wary. Getting it wrong means losing money and losing customers. If they try something that goes badly, there is the potential for backlash and even boycotts.

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