Published by March 01, 2021. Written by Natassja Simpson.
In the craft beer world – a space notorious for its whitewashed Instagram feeds and general lack of intersectionality – Black consumers and Blackness are rarely acknowledged. Due to the year of racial reckoning the world has seen and the efforts of coalitions like the 15% pledge, The Black in Fashion Council, and others, the notion of White-led business course-correcting their diversity and inclusion is somewhat of a standard. Case in point, Wicked Weed Brewing. The Asheville-based brewing company, Wicked Weed, partnered up with our creative marketing agency, JAWBREAKING Creative, to launch “Capitalize The B”, a campaign celebrating Black History Month and diversifying their marketing efforts in a way that truly centers Black experiences, creators, and joy, without tokenizing them.
“We knew that this moment wasn’t about us,” said Rachel Dudasik, the Community Engagement Manager at Wicked Weed. “Working with a Black-owned marketing agency and creatives was a humbling and important moment for us to use our platform as a space to amplify Black voices. Blackness in the beer world isn’t something we talk about nearly enough, and we’re dedicated to [ giving light to ] that conversation.”
Intending to normalize Blackness within the craft beer narrative, the roll-out of the campaign included a series of images, short films, and interviews released throughout February, featuring an all-Black soundtrack, talent, and of course, executive producers (ahem, JAWBREAKING). “Through ‘Capitalize The B’, we wanted to answer the question: ‘What would it look like for Blackness to be depicted as fantastically mundane. How can we elevate this narrative to a place of normalcy while also creating work that does what good marketing should do? By telling a story’,” said Jefferson Ellison, Principal at JAWBREAKING Creative.
“The Wicked Weed team attended our agency’s Anti-Racist marketing webinar ‘Don’t Ask Your Black Friend,’ so they already knew how we approached our work and they trusted us– which was really important. They asked us, ‘if we could do something that felt specific and intentional, what would you do?’ The first thing that came to mind was to normalize Blackness. We wanted to create something that felt pro-Black, through and through, without being tokenizing.”
The four-part video series, inspired by directors like Melina Matsoukas, Barry Jenkins, and even Wes Anderson, feature Black characters in different everyday life scenarios– from grocery shopping to dancing in the living room with a beer in-hand– while engaging with iconic Wicked Weed brand.
Alongside the video series, “Capitalize The B” has also included a set of thought-provoking conversational interviews with historian Dr. Darin Waters, DEI consultant Crystal Sherriff (who also stars in one of the videos), Ferguson activist Johnetta Elzie and others.
As with most things on the internet, there will most definitely be mixed emotions. And while all opinions have their place, one wonders what the alternative would be for those looking to poke holes in the effort. In our humble opinion, Wicked Weed has approached this conversation most safely and beneficially. They’ve offered up their resources and their platform, they’ve empowered Black storytellers, they protected Blackness by ensuring the story is told using Black music and has a Black eye as the final “say-so”, etc. In a world where people continue to disregard the need for “race conversations” and Black-visibility, if the worst thing we can say about a company’s effort is that they’ve empowered a few Black people to do what they love and share it with the world, we’ll take it.