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Old Navy suspends Juneteenth campaign

By Kristopher Fraser

May 7, 2021

Retail

Over the past several years, more companies and cities around the United States have begun celebrating Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the United States. Of course, with people celebrating, fashion companies wanted to get in on the action. Old Navy recently hired influencer agency Mavrck to reach out to Black influencers to participate in a Juneteenth campaign to bring awareness and celebrate the holiday.

While Old Navy’s heart was in the right place, the execution left much to be desired. A pitch email was sent to 300 influencers, asking them to apply to be in the campaign and buy a Juneteenth T-shirt to wear in sponsored posts (they would be reimbursed for the cost if selected.)

This entire approach was met with much controversy. Typically, influencers are gifted product for campaigns and never asked to purchase anything. Also, the rate for the campaign (425 dollars for one in-grind post and three stories), was also under market rate. Some of the influencers did have smaller followings, making the rate appropriate for them, but many had followings over 100,000 or more, making the rate arguably pitiful.

After backlash, Old Navy pulled the campaign issuing a statement discussing disappointment in the campaign outreach and amplifying their commitment to diversity. Mavrck issued a statement apologizing for how the approach to the campaign was conducted and saying they mistakenly sent out an e-mail chain featuring both micro-influencers and macro-influencers, and the influencers were only asked to buy the T-shirts and be reimbursed to guarantee products would get to them on time.

Old Navy not only received backlash over their approach to trying to recruit influencers for their campaign, but also for trying to profit off of Juneteenth in general. Many influencers said that Juneteenth is not time to be promoting and selling branded products, but, rather, companies should be addressing what they are doing to amplify Black voices and address diversity.

FashionUnited has reached out to Old Navy and Mavrck for comment.

Image: Artem Beliaikin / Unsplash