On March 16, 2021, eight people were killed in a series of shootings across several Atlanta-area spas. Six of the eight victims were women of Asian descent and, considering the recent increase in hate crimes against Asian communities, events such as those from last Tuesday are difficult to ignore. For some brands, tragedies such as this warrant a simple “we support you” tweet paired with the appropriate hashtag, but for other brands it is a sign that their silence must be broken. Verizon, the telecommunications giant, is among the latter.
Brands and media companies have been issuing statements of support to the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, but one of the most notable efforts is from Verizon. In a blog post published on March 18th, the chairman and chief executive officer of Verizon, Hans Vestberg, declared that “staying silent and still is not an option.” It was then revealed that Verizon is committing to giving “$10 million to organizations advancing social justice for the AAPI community, including donating $5 million in ad inventory through Verizon Media for media that advocates for Asian rights” and “promotes Asian-owned and run small businesses.”
Although this is an outstanding gesture on Verizon’s part, the $5 million ad inventory accounts for only a small portion of the company’s total spending on advertising. By the end of 2020, Verizon had collected over $120 billion in ad revenue after spending more than $3 billion on advertising. Some people on social media have expressed their disappointment, ensuring that the company could have given more money and support to this minority group. However, Verizon is one of the only major companies to come forward and show verbal and economic support for the AAPI community.
When our society is faced with a tragedy caused by the hatred of certain people, brands have a responsibility to their consumers to use their platform and resources for social good. This allows ethics to shine in an increasingly heartless world.