Every degree is a milestone. Keep building your monument. pic.twitter.com/dCUVss6Xqp
— Hennessy US (@HennessyUS) May 21, 2017
Yesterday, Hennessy tweeted the image that you see above. Upon seeing it, I heralded the brand for a marketing job well done. Hennessy knows that Black millennials drink their product consistently. We’ve created a whole subculture around Henny and honestly keep them in business. So, I’m glad to see an awareness of this reflected in their marketing – hence the following tweet…
see this is branding done well and right. Hennessy knows Black millennials drink their product consistently. Yes to targeting us well. https://t.co/DR2hj3Z9ls
— gabrielle. (@gabgotti) May 21, 2017
A tweet that launched thousands of retweets and plenty of commentary in my mentions. Some agreed with me, others did not.
@gabgotti And they made it a bottle of VSOP. Knowing that we’re now looking to spend a little more on premium brands/experiences post graduation.
— L. Barnes (@schLEEpington) May 21, 2017
— Legend (@NotTheFakeBS) May 22, 2017
The fact that we are excited that liquor companies keep targeting the Black community. https://t.co/VauaH8dt4D
— Isa Ibn (@IsaIbnOfficial) May 22, 2017
All while encouraging negros to graduate. I love this https://t.co/w934gGiFvq
— xanaxfuneral (@chief_kodiak) May 22, 2017
Whoever did this need a raise 👏🏽 https://t.co/GfxmGu3QHH
— Tracy K. (@ayethatsTracy) May 22, 2017
Nah das racist and stereotypical https://t.co/Vxza4soULX
— ▼Big Ooze Flex▼ (@iBeenUgly) May 22, 2017
Fr…they being real about who promotes their product & they’re promoting black millenials positively🤗 https://t.co/iXwgNgmksN
— Amariah (@HitTheTheraflu) May 21, 2017
The myriad of reactions to both the ad and my tweet didn’t surprise me. The fact that some were mad about the ad/my tweet was surprising however. We berate brands like Shea Moisture because they forgot who their target audience was and berate brands like Hennessy when they do remember. It begs asking, what are we really looking for here?
I saw other tweets that asked extremely important questions like, how many board members are Black? Is Hennessy giving out scholarships for HBCU students? (I would argue that they should give them to all Black students across institution types but that is a conversation for another day). Who was responsible for the ad? Are there Black people on the marketing team? What is/does Hennessy do for the Black community?
All relevant and important questions that speak to the larger conversation of what do/can we expect from the businesses and brands we patronize. The questions aren’t what lost me. The anger towards Hennessy for targeting Black people, their target demographic in an ad was.
One, the ad is targeted at Black graduates. It’s acknowledging graduation season and in my opinion commending Black grads on their accomplishment by inviting them to celebrate. TWO, BLACK PEOPLE DRINK HENNY! WE HAVE T-SHIRTS AND DAD CAPS AND WHOLE PARTIES THAT CENTER AROUND HENNY. Why wouldn’t they target us in their marketing? Isn’t the whole point of marketing to reach ones target audience?
The ad was not done in a racist manner. Maybe it did play into the stereotype that Black people like Henny but can we really be mad at that when its true to a certain extent?
We don’t get to be mad at brands when they ignore us, erase us, or negatively target us and mad at them when they get it right. I understand that liquor, tobacco, and other industries target the Black community in often negative ways. But this just wasn’t that. Plus, no one is forcing you, me, or anyone else to buy Henny or drink it. Yup. I said it.
Would it be great if Hennessy gave scholarships to Black students? YES. Would it be lovely if there were Black people on the board? YES. Should Black people have a seat their marketing table? YES.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Answering yes to all of those questions doesn’t negate the fact that it’s a good ad. It just means that we have to use our buying power for good and push the brands we support to do the work of supporting us too.