June 2020

Kelly MCarthy explains “Why Continued Community Engagement Is Critical Alongside Pepsico’s Removal Of Aunt Jemima Brand” for the World Trademark Review

  • 130-year old Aunt Jemima name and logo to be removed later this year
  • PepsiCo has pledged to donate $5 million to efforts to support the black community
  • Experts point to transparent approach and encourage community engagement

PepsiCo has announced that it will change the logo and name of its Aunt Jemima brand, which has long been accused of perpetuating a racial stereotype. The move has been welcomed by the media, as has PepsiCo’s efforts to openly confront the problematic brand. One legal expert suggests that PepsiCo now has an opportunity to drive meaningful change through engagement on the discussion over racial inequalities.

…“Pepsi is doing the right thing in not only publicly announcing this change but also backing up the announcement with significant donations to organisations that promote racial equality,” says Kelly McCarthy, a partner at Sideman & Bancroft. “I think many would have preferred to see this change prior to the current movement happening in the country, but at least they are taking action now.”

…McCarthy believes that instead of a quick salve, PepsiCo should seize the opportunity to engage with the black community. “It is clearly not the black community’s responsibility to explain to anyone what unconscious bias and racism are, but I think it is a good idea to invite those who have been most negatively affected by this brand to have input in the change.” She adds: “One of the criticisms that brand owners have faced in their responses to the George Floyd killing is that many simply announce donations or make ‘stand with’ posts on social media. PepsiCo has the opportunity to focus on a systemic change with this rebrand.”

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