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The Revolution Will Not Be Moisturized

dfarsettas Icon Posted by Diane Farsetta

November 13th, 2007

Have you read the manifesto?

No, not the Communist Manifesto — the manifesto for “My Black is Beautiful,” Procter & Gamble’s new multi-brand, multicultural marketing campaign.

P&G insists “My Black is Beautiful” is “a movement, not just advertising,” according to the Associated Press. But the campaign “began with P&G research that showed black women were frequent users of beauty products, spending at three times the rate of the general female population.” The campaign includes a video-rich website, “a special advertising section” in the December issue of Essence magazine, upcoming “store and community promotions,” along with “plans for a multi-city ‘conversation tour,’ and grants to community organizations to support young black women.”

Even if its campaign gives a small amount of funding to a few good groups — the $57 billion company has given away just $50,000 in “My Black is Beautiful action grants” — P&G’s appropriation of the language and tactics of social justice movements is troubling. Worse, P&G is using these tactics to boost sales of CoverGirl cosmetics, Pantene shampoo and Olay skin care products.

In other words, your black is beautiful … but it would be even more beautiful if you used our products.

At least P&G has worked to increase diversity among its staff, which currently stands at 43 percent women and 20 percent people of color, according to Fortune. Still, it’s pretty darn white and male at the top of the P&G corporate ladder.

We’re likely to see more such marketing-as-”movement”-type campaigns in the future. It’s a back-handed tribute to the activists who have successfully engaged the public on civil rights, feminist, environmental, human rights and labor issues.

Hopefully, such marketing won’t make real social change more difficult to achieve, by cheapening political discourse and leading people to believe they can consume their way to a better world.

2 Responses to “The Revolution Will Not Be Moisturized”

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