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Why we must share the stories of marginalised groups 

On this day 28 years ago, Stephen Lawrence, a Black British teenager from south-east London, was brutally murdered in an unprovoked, racist attack. He was only eighteena young man, full of the dreams and aspirations expected at his age. However, his dreams were viciously ended when a group of racists took his life, simply due to the colour of his skin. Following the initial police investigation, five suspects were arrested but not convicted, and a public inquiry into the handling of Stephen’s case led to the Macpherson Report. This report concluded that the police force was “institutionally racist” becoming catalyst for huge, cultural changes in attitudes to racism, the law, and police practice. It has also facilitated a greater understanding of discrimination in a wider context and led to new equalities legislation. 

While many have already heard this story, it is important that we keep telling it. By doing so, we are continuing to highlight the reality that racism is still alive and kicking, despite positive work since the Macpherson ReportRacism is something that many people still face every day and, in some cases, just like Stephen’s, this racism costs lives. 

Racism is not the only issue of course. Inequality and prejudice pervade many aspects of our society, leaving those in marginalised and minority groups at risk and in fear. 

Telling the stories of marginalised groups is therefore needed in all walks of life, but we are particularly well placed to do this, with our communications skills and access to brand platforms. So how? 

  1. Use a variety of high-reach platforms to uplift others 

Brands can reach a huge amount of people; they are loved and followed by audiences around the world. Having access to such a vast platform presents a fantastic opportunity to do good and uplift those who do not have this influence. They can reach a large audience, especially those who may not be reached by traditional media. A nice example of this is the partnership between Beats by Dr Dre and singer-songwriter Joy Crookes for Beats Flex. As part of the campaign, Joy shot video content honouring her Bangladeshi and Irish heritageand took part in online media interviews where she speaks about her background and experience. Joy appearing in the video in traditional South Asian clothing, discussing how “difference should be celebrated” is a notable example of a brand using its platform and multiple channels to celebrate and share diverse culture.  

2. Shine light on human experiences and show them from lesser-known perspectives  

Campaigns have the potential to do more than raise awareness for a brand, they also can be valuable in raising awareness of experiences and perspectives which are different to our own. In 2020 Starbucks launched its trans-inclusive #whatsyourname advert, following the story of a young trans man using his name for the very first time. This ad highlighted how something as simple as having your name written on your cup can have a profound and poignant meaning for others. The ad successfully told the story of someone we may not often get the opportunity to hear from, therefore enlightening us to a whole new perspective in an educational and heart-warming way. 

3. Connect diverse audiences through storytelling.  

Working at Splendid, I am fortunate to work with a variety of famous and well-loved brands which can often be found in many households around the UK and in some cases, the world. So, when we work with them to deliver a campaign, it is important that we are speaking to their whole audience. 

Tapping into real-world insights and telling stories that may not have been widely heard, is a wonderful way to show specific audiences that they are valued. For example, we have been working with Tesco along with nutritionist and chef Asma Khan, tshare advice for British Muslims to help them enjoy balanced, tasty, and nutritious meals during Ramadan, once they break their fast. Tesco being one of the UK’s biggest grocery retailers(1) and one in ten UK adults observing Ramadan this year(2) provides a good opportunity to engage a key part of the Tesco audience. Tesco has often celebrated diverse experiences through its Food Love Stories campaign, where it seeks share recipes and their stories to connect communities. Being present in every neighbourhood makes Tesco well-placed to tell the stories of marginalised groups and connect communities which is something that gives us immense pride. 

So, in our personal or professional lives, it is important that if we have the chance to speak up on behalf of someone else, raise awareness of, or educate others on critical issues, we make the most of the opportunity we have as communications professionals to use our platforms and connections to help those who need it.  

Sophie Barnes

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[1] Market share of grocery stores in Great Britain from January 2017 to December 2020 | Statista

[1] Survey of 2,000 UK adults from 01- 06.04. 2021, conducted by Opinium Research on behalf of Tesco