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Brief Published: 10 Mar 2021

US Brand Campaigns Begin to Confront Anti-Asian Hate Crime

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Phillip Lim

The coronavirus has triggered a rise in anti-Asian hate acts globally, as discussed in Covid-19 + Inequality, an issue that has not abated in the US. Fuelled by a recent spate of particularly horrifying crimes, a number of brands are beginning to take note.

Asian American influencers joined forces to bring attention to the issue (see the Inclusivity section of our latest Pop Culture Pulse), and in mid-February, Facebook’s global head of social Eric Toda wrote an Adweek op-ed urging marketers to stand with the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) community. Nike and its Converse brand posted messages on social media, alongside giants including Adidas, US fitness brand Peloton, apparel brand Tommy Hilfiger and Italian luxury house Maison Valentino. “We’re better than this as a nation – or at least we should be,” said Tony Capuano, newly installed chief executive at American hotel corporation Marriott.

Fundraising platform GoFundMe has launched a Stop Asian Hate hub for donations, collecting over $375,000 on the first day. Fashion designer Phillip Lim's "Stop Asian hate" key tag benefits this fund. Grassroots efforts include Enough Is Enough, a group of NYC-based Asian American restaurant and other business owners, who created a fundraising drive supporting local organisations.

Fashion and beauty media in particular are prioritising the issue – the American editions of Elle and Vogue, as well as British Harper’s Bazaar, recently posted opinion pieces. American beauty site Byrdie published interviews with 23 Asian American editors and influencers discussing cultural identity and pride, and Allure magazine interviewed prominent Asian Americans in beauty (editor-in-chief Michelle Lee has also spoken out on her personal Instagram account). 

The sobering social context and rising Asian American activism make it imperative for brands to meaningfully mark this May’s AAPI Heritage Month – watch for our coverage of standout campaigns in May. See our Black History Month report for inspiration.

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Tommy Hilfiger, Instagram
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Converse, Instagram
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