Where do brands sit in the ‘war on woke’?


Brands attempting to communicate a positive message on issues around equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) face influential voices weaponising the word ‘woke’ to destabilise or delegitimise such initiatives – with significant sums spent on developing content potentially wasted.  

This year’s Diversity and Confusion Report from The Unmistakables consultancy notes that the word’s use “appears to have the aim of reducing ongoing, complex, and nuanced societal conversations and commitments to critical one-word soundbites”.

Why it matters

The report suggests that ED&I professionals may be falling into a trap of investing disproportionate amounts of time in engaging the already converted and not engaging adequately with those who have concerns about “the woke agenda”. 

Much ED&I work over the past couple of years has been directed internally, with varying degrees of success, but businesses and brands also need to address an external media agenda that threatens to undermine their efforts. 

“Formats [such as a new TV show or a new TV advert]are often the places where businesses seek to showcase their purpose and commitment to ED&I. But this can often be held back by the press response,” notes Asad Dhunna, founder and CEO of The Unmistakables.


  • Among the ‘woke’-led news articles, more than a quarter came from the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday.
  • A media analysis undertaken for the study found that ‘ED&I’ stories saw a net sentiment of +52% (indicating a fairly neutral to positive social media response), while net sentiment of ‘woke’ stories was -38% (indicating severe negativity). 
  • While the idea of a ‘woke agenda’ is a manufactured one made real through repetition, the threat it poses needs to be addressed in a manner that is currently not the case. 

Sourced from The Unmistakables


—This article first appeared https://www.warc.com

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