The Best Black History Month Campaigns to Fuel Your Brand

Black History Month 2022 is approaching. How can you make sure your Black History Month Campaigns do and say everything they should? Here are the best examples for inspiration, plus our tips for getting it right.
Fanbytes | Black History Month Campaigns

In 30 seconds:

  • Planning your Black History Month campaigns 2022? Why not take inspiration from these examples.
  • Black History Month campaigns are about much more than just educating on Black history – they should also uplift, empower, and contribute to Black communities in the present.
  • The best Black History Month campaigns have had real, lasting impact on audiences and brands alike. Here’s a list of our favourites.

Black History Month, which takes place during February in the US but October in the UK, is an opportunity for brands to showcase some inspired black history month campaigns

But, every year, there are brands who do it wrong, who come under fire for performative activism; campaigns with the sole purpose of increasing their own brand awareness, rather than true support of Black communities. But there are also brands that have got it right, and have won more than just brand love in the process.

So, before you start planning your October black history month campaign, make sure you’ve looked at these examples to learn why they’ve succeeded – and what you can learn from their examples.

Why do we have Black History Month campaigns?

First thing’s first – why do we celebrate Black History Month?

First recognised by the US government in 1976 (by President Gerald Ford), and celebrated for the first time in the UK in 1987, Black History Month was created in order to celebrate and understand the impact of Black Americans and black people throughout history. 

It’s an opportunity for people to learn more about Black stories and experiences, celebrate the creative work and cultural contribution of black people, and take a deeper look at the ongoing effects of racism and negative stereotypes. It’s also a chance to challenge a school curriculum which is still unbalanced against black historical figures. 

What does this mean for your marketing campaign celebrating Black History Month? Well, one key takeaway is this: performative campaigns are not going to cut it. If your campaign doesn’t engage meaningfully with the black community, or create real-world impact, you aren’t doing it right. 

The biggest Black History Month campaigns to inspire you

Having cautioned against the kind of campaign that does it wrong, here are some of the best past examples, to help give you Black History Month campaign ideas that really hit the mark:

1. Spotify - Black history is now

Music streaming app Spotify celebrated Black History Month 2021 by launching a series of curated playlist takeovers under the banner ‘Phenomenal Black Music.’ 

“Some of the most unparalleled expressions of music across genres have been created by black artists,” the summary reads. 

As well as showcasing these playlists, the platform also uplifted Black-run podcasts, and included images from Black photographers as cover art – making it a multi-dimensional celebration of Black culture

The campaign was successful as it fit seamlessly into the Spotify user experience – simply uplifting Black voices in a way which was accessible for their user base. By acknowledging the huge impact of black musicians throughout history, Spotify was able to successfully educate their users, support new artists, and bring a wider awareness to historical racial disparity within the music industry. 

With a user base who are majority Gen Z – the most racially diverse generation in historyTikTok was certain to put out a black history month campaign that celebrated the diversity of its platform. 

With over 16.4M views, the #BlackTikTok hashtag is a popular place for black creators to join together and share experiences.

Information about the campaign reads; “Black creators inspire mainstream culture and continue to define what’s next — from creating viral moments and pioneering new spaces in fashion and music, to advocating for others and organising for a better future, they have always been at the forefront of innovation.” 

The multi-faceted campaign included Black music playlists, new in-app stickers, a billboard tribute, and a TikTok Live event that spotlighted Black creators making waves on the platform. 

TikTok also released the 2022 list of Black TikTok #Trailblazers – including names like DeMarcus Shawn (@artbydemarcusshawn) and Mya Pol (@immarollwithit) – encouraging users to diversify their feeds. 

3. The Atlantic & Salesforce - Inheritance

One key aspect of any Black History Month campaign? Education. 

That’s why this collaboration between online publication The Atlantic and Salesforce is so successful. 

The editor’s note reads: “Too much knowledge has been lost, too many stories distorted, too many people forgotten. We mourn for all we do not know. Yet the vision and resilience of Black America are shaping this nation. Our future demands that we unbury the past.”

Beginning in February 2021, the publication planned to spend the following 18 months uncovering Black history and sharing their stories on the website – centring forgotten black experiences and ensuring a lasting legacy from their campaign. 

Our favourite Black history month social media campaigns

If your Black History Month campaign is a social media-centred affair, you can get inspiration from these three examples from last year of how to do it right online:

1. Food52 & Eat the Culture - the “virtual potluck”

Food52 is a recipe website posting crowdsourced recipes, as well as hosting a marketplace of home goods and a line of kitchen products. 

For Black History Month, the site partnered with @EatTheCulture, an organisation devoted to empowering content creators who champion black food and cooking, to host a ‘virtual potluck’ on Instagram and its social platforms. 

Users submitted their recipes, shared cultural dishes and methods, and contributed to a growing list of recipes available in lists later posted by Food52 – like this one of 33 Innovative Recipes to Honor Black History Month

Why was the campaign such a success? By sharing user-generated content across their official platforms, Food52 were able to centre black creators, celebrate their culture, and spread awareness of cultural foods – bringing the messaging of Black history month into a space relevant for their audience. 

2. Adobe - History Recognized

Adobe took to both Instagram and TikTok to feature stories of black women in their year-round ‘Women Create Wednesday’ series. 

For Black History Month, a special edition spotlighted four black creators inspiring change in their communities: Blair Imani, Monique Jones, Jamilla Okubo, and Vanessa Newton. 

@adobe Inspired by all these amazing creators. ❤️ @moniqueyvonne #AdobeTok ♬ original sound - Adobe

They also posted videos highlighting often-forgotten black creators from history, posted about current black artists and designers, and shared accounts of diverse voices to encourage their followers to learn more. 

The campaign was wide-spread, but ultimately successful at its aim: bringing the spotlight onto the black creatives within the Adobe network and beyond, and showcasing the range of diverse talent which often otherwise can go overlooked. 

3. Urban Decay - #BlackBoost

Taking to TikTok for the 2021 Black History Month campaign, cosmetics brand Urban Decay worked with 10 influencers to launch their #BlackBoost campaign, which saw users stitch Urban Decay makeup artist Joda Jackson’s video asking people to “show me you’re making Black history without telling me you’re making Black history.” 

@whateverjess #stitch with @urbandecaycosmetics Amplify black voices tag your fave black creators #BlackBoost #UrbanDecayPartner #MakingBlackHistory ♬ original sound - Jessee ✨

@veondre #stitch with @urbandecaycosmetics #TransAndProud #BlackBoost Happy Black History Month! #MakingBlackHistory Thx 4 raising my voice #UrbanDecayPartner ♬ original sound - Ve’ondre Mitchell

Responses saw users expressing their creativity, celebrating their unique identities not only as Black, but also LGBTQ+, and showcasing their talents. 

Notably, not all of the partners Urban Decay approached for this campaign were involved with cosmetics – meaning that the campaign had a wider spread, and focused on the creators themselves, rather than the brand. Malena Higuera, Urban Decay gm, said “Urban Decay wants to act as a platform to amplify diverse voices rather than act as a brand that tells its own story.”

This attitude is what made the campaign such a success, as the responses were authentic, uplifting celebrations of Black voices – not simple advertisements. 

Three steps to a great Black History Month campaign

It’s time to get planning. We’ve written a full guide about how to meaningfully celebrate Black History Month for Brands – but here are some of the foundational steps to get you thinking:

1. Consider partnering with Black creators

Black History Month is a chance to step out of the spotlight and centre Black voices in your marketing campaigns

Showcasing diverse voices and experiences is key for brands who want to connect with audiences on a deeper level; especially when you consider that, for Gen Z audiences, ethical consumerism is important to the way they shop, and the brands they choose to support. 

Consider the work we did with skincare brand Origins. Our #ShowYourOrigins campaign was designed to highlight their commitment to plant 30,000 trees and help battle climate change. 

For the #ShowYourOrigins campaign, we used our network of diverse influencers, including @viluong and @monaswain, and asked them to share their origin story. The result? A celebration of diverse identities that really engaged audiences on TikTok

@monaswain #ShowYourOriginsChallenge +this sound & @origins plants a 🌳(up to 30K) Add #sweepstakes for chance to win $330 of product. T&Cs in Origins bio #ad ♬ ShowYourOriginsChallenge - Origins

@alessyafarrugia love my origins! use #ShowYourOriginsChallenge sound & @origins will plant a 🌳#sweepstakes for chance to win $330 of product #ad #origins ♬ ShowYourOriginsChallenge - Origins

Of course, you should be trying to uphold diversity year-round, but during black history month it’s more important than ever to hand over the microphone to black creatives

2. Make a donation to a Black charity or organisation, or support black-owned businesses

Is your business doing enough to tackle racial injustices? Why not use the prompt of Black History Month to put your money where your mouth is, and support a cause that will make a difference, or support a lesser known black-owned brand in your industry? 

Organisations like 10,000 Black Interns are partnering with firms from 24 different sectors to provide young people with paid work experience. You can find out how to get involved on their sign-up page

You can find information about UK charities tackling racism to donate to here

Brands like Sephora have successfully supported black-owned businesses in their pledges since the Black Lives Matter protests became the centre of global news in 2020, and their work has continued to open up opportunities for black entrepreneurs.

Consider where there is a lack of Black voices in your industry and how you can use your brand presence to support a different perspective.

3. Showcase your year-round work

Brands should make sure their Black History Month marketing ideas showcase the work they’ve been doing on diversity throughout the year, not just attempt to cash-in on the ‘trend’ during October. If your campaign isn’t backed-up by evidence of past awareness and action towards social justice and representation, not only will your audiences sniff it out, but it’ll cheapen your entire message, too. 

We’re proud that Fanbytes is has a workforce of over 40% BAME employees (including 50% of our senior leadership team members!) 

It means that when we work on campaigns like the #PrincessCutsChallenge for hair care brand Headie One, we’re mindful to include and celebrate black experiences. 

The challenge had some great responses from creators like @shericebanton and @ryleyisaac, who used the opportunity of the “glow up”-based challenge to highlight how they care for their curls. 

Working with black employees creates additional creative opportunities for your brand, as it opens you up to new perspectives that you would not otherwise have access to. For us, it helps to connect with Gen Z in a more authentic manner and tell stories that they can relate to. After all, this is the most diverse generation in history – and a cohort that look for authentic brand messages. you never know what angles you’re missing unless you take steps to make the experiences of black people part of your world.

Black History Month: lessons for brands

Like all events in the social media calendar, brands should absolutely be planning a campaign for this year’s black history month

But – unlike other, more casual opportunities for marketing campaigns – your marketing campaign for BHM needs to represent a real commitment to uplifting Black people

Whether that’s by supporting Black businesses, consistently working with black creators, or highlighting contributions to Black movements throughout the past year – brands should view this as an opportunity to bring to light ongoing work, not create a ‘flash in the pan’ campaign. 

Do that? And you’ll show that you’re committed to making a better future – and that’s something we can all get behind. 

Creating the perfect influencer partnerships and social media content is our bread and butter, and showcasing the incredible talent of black creators is an objective that’s close to our heart. Get in touch to find out how we can create the perfect Black History Month campaign for your business – we can’t wait to help you use your voice for good.

When you’re planning your marketing campaigns for the year, you should take care to learn all you can about events like Black History Month. We’ve got more insight on the campaigns that do it right:

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