Yara Shahidi Of ‘Black-ish’ Is A Critic Of Brands That Try To Sell Products Based On Social Movements

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Yara Shahidi, a star of ABC’s “Black-ish”, resembles the elusive young consumers marketers are desperate to reach.

Shahidi has worked with Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn education initiative. (The former first lady wrote a college recommendation for the “Black-ish” star. She’ll be attending Harvard this fall.) Shahidi partnered with The Young Women’s Leadership School to create Yara’s Club, which encourages high school students to discuss social issues and how to take action. She recently began an initiative, Eighteen x 18, to rally young people to vote in this year’s midterm elections. Shahidi has also endorsed brands — Fossil, Tory Burch and American Eagle.

She has become an unofficial spokeswoman for a generation eager to get involved in political causes, but she’s a critic of brands that try to capitalize on social movements to sell products.

Ad Age‘s Jeanine Poggi interviewed Shahidi. Here’s an excerpt from that interview:

What is a brand’s place on social media? Should brands be taking part in sociopolitical conversations?

The partnerships I currently have with brands, a lot of them stem from a certain level of authenticity. The one thing we don’t want is this idea of “engaging” Gen Z. There are some commercials, without naming any names, that feel as though they were optimizing current movements and rallies that we feel passionately about to sell a product. I feel like we usually as a generation see right through those moments in which there’s such overt marketing to us without any level of authenticity, without any level of accountability. OK, you want to talk about being socially engaged. Well, what are the politics of the brand?

I know not everything occurs on social media, but the downfall is if you don’t publicize it, it’s as though it never happened. And if you do publicize it, does it seem fake or ill-motivated? Social media, being more engaged with the buyer, will add a level of transparency. So not just for brand pushes, but just the day-to-day, this is what the brand is doing. There are so many brands I know that are doing great work, that are sponsoring great work.

Social can be used to make it feel like we’re part of the process, as though we’re being included in the conversation more than just marketed to.

Read more at  Ad Age.