“Uncle Ben’s” drops logo and branding, rebrands as “Ben’s Original”
Moving forward, Uncle Ben’s will be known as Ben’s Original™.
Read our full statement at: https://t.co/xmRr7M0Yew pic.twitter.com/hjDIvoqeRe
— Mars, Incorporated (@MarsGlobal) September 23, 2020
The Black Lives Matter movement of 2020 has many corporations reconsidering their racially insensitive pasts and images. In June, Pepsi Co. announced that after 130 years, they were rebranding their Aunt Jemima brand and products because they recognized that using an image of a smiling plus-sized Black woman dressed as a maid “was based on a racial stereotype.”
Now Mars, Inc has decided to rebrand its Uncle Ben’s rice products to be more inclusive. They are changing the name to Ben’s Original and doing away with the original logo of an elderly African-American wearing a bow tie because they also recognize that that image depicts Black people in a state of perpetual servitude. Mars, Inc also states that they hope to create more opportunities for everyone to have a seat at the table. Here’s more on the story from CNN Business [via Towleroad]:
Said Mars Inc in a statement: “The company has also committed to removing the image on the packaging to create more equitable iconography. The brand is not just changing its name and image on the package. It is also taking action to enhance inclusion and equity and setting out its new brand purpose to create opportunities that offer everyone a seat at the table. Ben’s Original™ community outreach programs will ensure underserved communities have access to the nutritious meals we all deserve, as well as help culinary entrepreneurs of all colors get educational opportunities so their ideas and voices can be appreciated by all. This work will begin in the U.S. where the brand has forged a partnership with National Urban League to support aspiring Black chefs through a scholarship fund, before expanding to support other underserved communities around the world.
CNN Business reports: “Mars’ rice brand was named in the 1940s for ‘Uncle Ben,’ a possibly fictitious Black rice farmer from Texas supposedly renowned for his high-quality crop. It featured the face of Frank Brown, head waiter at an exclusive Chicago restaurant who posed for the Uncle Ben’s portrait, according to an archived page from Uncle Ben’s website.
Uncle Ben’s and Aunt Jemima are not the only brands growing a conscience. The other day I was in Walmart (don’t @ me) searching for some mint tea when I stumbled upon Bigelow’s Plantation Mint tea. I even tweeted about it without even name dropping the brand because honestly I forgot who created that ridiculousness. Within minutes of my tweet, Bigelow Tea was SWIFTTTT about showing up in my mentions.
— Bigelow Tea (@bigelowtea) September 22, 2020
I mean, guilty much? I guess it isn’t popular to be overtly racist or perhaps it is costing these companies a lot of money to be. But that’s my internal cynic. It is quite possible that these brands truly see the error in supporting these racist tropes or perhaps they have a more diverse group of executives making better, more “inclusive” choices. Then again, the CEO of Wells Fargo doubled down on their racist hiring practices stating that there “is a limited pool of black talent to chose from.” Sounds about white.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 22, 2020
Whatever the motivation behind Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s and Bigelow Tea, the choices they have made to rebrand are definitely a step in the right direction for tamping down on stereotypes in America and perhaps globally since those items are exported overseas. At any rate, I personally am ready for different narratives and images of BIPOC to be readily available in the public domain. That is the only way we can begin to heal. We need to apologize, course correct, repair then make damn sure we do not go down this road again.
— The Onion (@TheOnion) June 12, 2020
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— (((Badger🇬🇧))) (@back_badger) September 24, 2020
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