Yorkshire Tea has shown it’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement by telling a right-wing YouTuber ‘please don’t buy our tea again’, resulting in much support and controversy amid global protests over racial discrimination.
The company joined PG Tips in showing #solidaritea to those taking part in anti-racist protests being held across the UK by declaring: ‘We stand against racism.’
The Twitter account @thisislaurat, belonging to Laura Towler, tweeted: “I’m dead chuffed that Yorkshire Tea hasn’t supported BLM.”
To which Yorkshire Tea’s official account replied with the following tweet:
Please don't buy our tea again.
We're taking some time to educate ourselves and plan proper action before we post. We stand against racism.
— Yorkshire Tea (@YorkshireTea) June 8, 2020
Within a couple of hours, the response had been liked more than 10,000 times and retweeted more than 3,000 times, leading to the hashtag #solidaritea circulating around Twitter.
The statement from Yorkshire Tea received a lot of support across social media.
PG Tips – the second biggest tea seller in the UK – later supported its tea rival and tweeted: ‘If you are boycotting teas that stand against racism, you’re going to have to find two new brands now #blacklivesmatter #solidaritea.’
Brands and politics: A commercial risk
When brands get political, they risk becoming open to more criticism as well as praise. Some replies to both brands criticised them for ‘virtue signalling’ and Towler herself quickly changed her Twitter profile to take pride in being ‘disavowed by Yorkshire Tea’.
Towler wrote: “Me: I‘m glad this one brand hasn’t supported BLM. *Disavowed by tea brand, blue tick liberals in meltdown, trending on Twitter, news articles written, mentioned on TV*”
Others social media users called on the companies to make clear their politics on racism in more detail, while some used it to question the brands’ own employment and supply ethics.
Global Black Lives Matter protests have been taking place since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th, and many brands have issued statements of support to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Sportswear labels Adidas and Nike are two to have done so, and the latter has pledged $40 million to support black communities.