Measuring the Cultural Fluency of USA Today’s “National Brand Statement” on Black Lives Matter
In this video, USA Today takes a clear stance on the issue of racial injustice. The plain black screen starts out with just one name – George Floyd. In a matter of seconds, the screen populates with names of other Black Americans that have unjustly lost their lives, and in the background, voices of protesters grow increasingly loud. The spot concludes with an explicit message: “Silence is not an option.”
USA Today’s poignant ad did not cross the resonance threshold with everyone, but it was a clear winner for the Black segment. It was the highest performing media/telecom ad for Black consumers, with an A-CFQ score of 80. This ad joins a very small elite group of ads that can provoke that level of connection (Head & Shoulders “Royal Oils: BET Black History Month” and Coca-Cola “History Shakers”).
The top performing feature of this ad was the message. And while it’s sobering, about half of all respondents appreciate the message and say it was their favorite feature of the ad. On top of that, 72% of all viewers, and 81% of Black viewers, agree that it’s an important message. This was higher than any other ad in the study. Black respondents shared that they love the solidarity from USA Today supporting Black Lives Matter.
USA Today’s ad is unique in evoking an array of emotions. While many ads tend to cluster around one emotion, here the data is more fragmented across emotions, which would be expected given the sensitivity around the topic. Even still, feeling proud is the highest reported emotion, and this is especially true among Black viewers at 31%.
USA Today not only took a definitive stance on this issue – they went all in. They used explicit language to name and remember the Black Americans whose lives have been taken unjustly. They expressly referenced Black Lives Matter. And they made a clear assertion that staying silent on the issue is harmful. This course of action was powerful in both supporting and connecting with Black Americans.