Since I started looking into Black History Month campaigns in big box stores, I have discovered more in stores that I have not visited in a while. Here’s how they did, in order from my least to most favorite:
I think I expected more from Old Navy, but I am not sure I have a good reason why. Compared to the body positivity campaign, Old Navy’s Black History Month display is small and easy to miss. I was actually looking for it and still walked by it and had to ask an associate about it. Despite that, I appreciate the collaboration with three independent Black designers. This collab features one design from each artist available in both adult and kids sizes. Online, while the collection is acknowledged close to the bottom of the page, it quickly becomes apparent that it is part of a larger campaign highlighting diverse artists. I am not mad at Old Navy’s ongoing efforts at inclusivity, or their special donation to the Fifteen Percent Pledge, and am glad to see talented artists get some extra shine.
Nestled between sections in the men’s department is a colorful sign declaring “Together We’re Better” with a few racks of shirts and accessories as well as a statement of the efforts of the Diversity Design Council to elevate and honor Black voices throughout February and all year long. I appreciate the variety of this collection. Not only were there multiple shirt designs, but there were also dad hats, candles, totes, and pillows highlighting unity and affirming “I am Black History.” The shirts were available in a variety of sizes for children and adults. However, there was a clear target to Black women and while, generally, I have zero problems acknowledging, affirming, celebrating, and championing Black women, it was strange to me that (1) there were almost no options for men who should be very much part of this campaign; and (2) that this campaign, which was so obviously targeted to women, would be in the men’s section. There are more options (and men’s options) online, where “diverse dolls” (not exclusively Black) and “diverse books” (also not exclusively Black) were also featured.
As soon as you walk into Ulta, you see a display of Black-owned beauty products as an “ode to Black beauty,” as the sign says. Ulta selected seven or so Black-owned hair, skin, and makeup brands that they sell in-store. If you visit Ulta’s website, one of the first things that you see is a banner that helps you navigate to all the Black brands that Ulta sells. I really appreciate that nothing about the campaign says Black History Month or puts a time constraint on their celebration because there is no limit on when or how Black people create history or inspire beauty.
This campaign ties with the last for most favorite, and I like them for different reasons. Although JCPenny’s Black History Month display is not front and center as soon as you walk into the store, it does feel thoughtful. JCPenny used its own BIPOC design team to create a collection of t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, socks, travel mugs, and pouches. The campaign, named Hope & Wonder, also features framed prints and canvases from Black artists. Online, there is a more extensive collection, which also includes Black beauty brands. I love how many of the items in this campaign center on self-care with 100% of the net profits being donated to Black Girls Smile, a nonprofit that empowers the mental well-being of young Black girls.