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Guide to Cancel Culture, and How You Can Navigate it Successfully

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There’s a good chance you’ve heard of cancel culture in recent years. But, what does that actually mean and how can it affect your brand’s image?

We examine the concept in this article. We look at examples from brands that have been canceled. Also, we outline why brands must take a stand regarding social and political issues. Finally, we give you tips on what you can do to prevent your brand being canceled.


Cancelculture is a new phenomenon. It involves online activity where an individual or organization is called out, and they are punished. This is a way to demonstrate widespread disapproval and to show that certain behaviors are not acceptable, even by people in positions of authority.

People demanding more accountability and cancellation culture gained momentum first on social networks. Every day, there is a new celebrity or brand to be ‘canceled.’ Their reputation has been damaged for years, often irreparably.

Although some criticize ‘cancelculture’ as an extreme response to a mistake made or misunderstanding they make no qualis with others.

As they are in positions of power and the public eye, they must also consider the effects of their words or actions on the wider society. No matter which side your company falls on, it’s important to keep customers involved and show that you are open to learning and changing.

You might feel that businesses should primarily focus on creating great products and services and avoiding political and other issues that could cause them to lose customers.

Consumers are now realizing the connections between all these elements. And in today’s socially conscious society the brands who don’t take a stand on the issues that they care about are the ones at greatest risk.


We live in a world that consumers depend on their favorite companies to address the issues they care most about and make a positive contribution to society. Good products or services are vital, but it shouldn’t be a prerequisite. What is most important is how brands help improve the world.

The idea of “being canceled” may seem daunting, but it’s not something to be scared about. Actually, 88% percent of consumers are more likely to forgive a company’s mistakes if the company makes an effort to improve.

As in all crises, prevention is always better that cure. So what can companies to do to prevent their products from being cancelled?


Cancelling is a misleading term. Some consumers may be willing to rejoin a brand if they show that they can evolve and change their behavior. It might be more useful to consider it a boycott.

Here are some examples and reactions to brands in trouble for their actions.

i). Pepsi

Kendall Jenner, a Pepsi brand’s ad, was one of the most famous examples of an advert being canceled. The Pepsi advertising featured Kendall Jenner, a young woman holding a can filled with Pepsi. It was broadcast in the context Black Lives Matter.

The advertisement was widely condemned for being tone-deafening and irresponsible. This is especially when Black Lives Matter was trying raise awareness to the terrible incidents in the US where black people were murdered by US Police officers. Pepsi pulled out the advert just a day later and issued an apology.

ii). Oatly

Oatly, a Swedish brand of milk alternative brands, was in the news last year because of its links to Blackstone. Oatly prides its self on progressive values and is particularly concerned about the environment. Oatly investors were also linked to Amazon deforestation.

They chose instead to defend their position and apologize to Blackstone, arguing that if more private equity firms could convince Blackstone that sustainable businesses are profitable, they might consider green investments. Some have pointed to Oatly’s brand value as not being in line with their behaviour.

iii). L’Oreal Paris

When the Black Lives Matter protests were in their peak in 2020, many brands wanted to stand up against racism. Munroebergdorf, activist and model for L’Oreal Paris was quick enough to point out the brand’s past inconsistent behavior.

She raised awareness about the fact that she was dropped by the brand’s campaign after she spoke out against systemic racism in 2017.

Delphine VIguier, brand new president, apologized for how the situation had been handled and reached back to Bergdorf for further discussion. Bergdorf accepted an invite to rejoin the brand, and will join the UK diversity advisory board.

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