May 2022

Two years ago, it felt like our industry was shifting for the better. After a summer engaging in difficult conversations about systemic racism, we bore witness to Black History Month and Juneteenth campaigns that were clearly executed with inclusion in mind. Was brand storytelling giving way to a new, more inclusive space?

Partially, yes. But monthly cultural celebrations like Black History Month and Juneteenth — and also Women's History, Pride, and AAPI and Hispanic Heritage Months — are still feeling like marketing, and that in turn can feel inauthentic, or worse, performative.

So how can brands participate in cultural touchstones while amplifying the nation’s often-marginalized communities? In our industry, it all comes down to supporting the creator and their content, not just the day.

Content marketing has always been led by great content, first and foremost. The talented creators who shed light on their lived experiences provide much-needed representation, sometimes in industries where there is none. But today, branded moments are increasingly taking center stage over the kind of thoughtful storytelling that can really move the needle. If creators’ viewpoints aren’t being prioritized, what kinds of storytelling are we missing out on, storytelling that we know consumers respond to?

At DBA, we’ve championed the creator since our founding. We understand the impact that user-generated content can have on the industry because we see it every day. That guiding principle has led us to lead, build, and collaborate from a creator-first strategy, one in which brand partners sponsor moments their brands can be a part of.

We get it: It can be intimidating to trust creators to tell your story. This leads to fear of speaking out at risk of “cancellation.” In the recent months, we’ve seen a decline of representative campaigns in favor of more evergreen marketing tactics. But we know playing it safe doesn’t create the kind of noise that brands are looking for, or pay the kind of respect to marginalized groups that they deserve — and consumers pick up on that.

With June’s Juneteenth and Pride Month celebrations on the horizon, we encourage you to lead with the creator-first strategy. Here’s how:

To our brand partners, have an open dialogue with creatives about how your specific products and experiences enhance their lives. Natural integration is key.

To the amazing creator economy, think about the content you’re creating for the community you’re developing! Leading with a content-first strategy creates a strong opportunity to build lasting relationships with brands that trust your voice and vision.


EJ James

Senior Vice President, Special Projects

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