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Brief Published: 3 Jan 2017

JWT Takes On Black Lives Matter

JWT and BLM's Backing Black Business website

Global marketing communications firm J. Walter Thompson (JWT) has formed a strategic partnership with non-profit organisation Black Lives Matter (BLM). JWT New York will work to produce "game-changing campaigns that will inspire, inform and influence behaviour", according to a statement from the company.

The first initiative is a website created to help people find black-owned small businesses in the US. Backing Black Business is the first step to "uplift and sustain black businesses" said Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of BLM. Currently in beta, the site lists more than 300 companies so far.

As noted in Brands Take a Stand, JWT is a pioneer in pushing the idea that agencies and businesses can take on controversial causes and make a difference. Lynn Power, chief executive of J. Walter Thompson New York, said: "Working in advertising, I believe that the messages we push out have an impact, and that we have a responsibility to try and shape culture positively." As with its documentary series Her Story, JWT aims to "play an active role" in changing narratives around civil rights.

The BLM movement has been a crucial cultural and political voice in 2016 – but as we noted in Brands Take a Stand, few brands have championed the cause for fear of alienating consumers. American ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry's was one of the few to come out in support of BLM in October 2016 (see US Election: Brands Get Proactive).

For more on how brands can navigate our current politically charged consumer landscape, see our latest Macro Trend, The Currency of Dissent.