Past Cancel Culture: Conscious Partnerships

A hyper-transparent public arena means brands are now far more open to scutiny, from supply chain sustainability and company culture to working conditions. Proactive, socially and environmentally-conscious consumers are holding brands accountable.

Appropriate response to any failing determines whether a brand is cancelled, or sees their consumer loyalty survive. The real challenge remains to prove to consumers that there is more value to gain from re-engagement than retaliation.

1. Victoria's Secret (finally) embraces body positivity

The lingerie retailer recently partnered with plus-size TikTok star Remi Bader, who joined as the brand ambassador and size consultant for their 'Pink' subbrand. Bader will also judge the annual Pink With Purpose panel, which awards financial assistance to people who want to make positive changes within their communities.

Post #MeToo, the brand faced backlash on its harmful beauty discourse and misogynistic corporate culture. In 2021, an entirely new executive team cancelled its annual fashion show and introduced the VS Collective of women from diverse backgrounds. The group includes soccer star and gender equality advocate Megan Rapinoe, Brazilian trans model Valentina Sampaio, and model and South Sudanese refugee Adut Akech.

Past Cancel Culture: Conscious Partnerships

Remi Bader

2. L’Oréal goes back on controversial decision

In 2020, transgender model Munroe Bergdorf rejoined L’Oréal as part of their U.K. Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board after being let go in 2017.

The brand broke ties following a Facebook post where Bergdorf discussed ‘the racial violence of white people’, claiming the statement to be at odds with its values to support ‘diversity and tolerance towards all people'. Discussions reignited in 2020 when Bergdorf criticised L’Oreal’s BLM solidarity post and its performative diversity claims

Past Cancel Culture: Conscious Partnerships

L’Oréal x Munroe Bergdorf

What does this mean for brands?

  • Continually interrogate and reassess brand values in line with consumer expectations and shifts in social discourse.
  • Keep an always-on dialogue with creators, collaborators and stakeholders. Create social and environmental responsibility boards and policies and share how you hold your operation accountable with your consumers.
  • Treat consumer trust as a crucial success metric. Demonstrate lasting commitment to making change through actionable steps and transparent communication.
  • Consider partnering with creators from diverse backgrounds and strive for ongoing relationships rather than one-off collaborations.