The Importance of Messaging and Juneteenth

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen some brands attempt to honor Juneteenth, with less than favorable results. Walmart, under its Great Value brand, released a “Celebration Edition: Juneteenth Ice Cream”. The red velvet flavored ice cream which had the message “Share and celebrate African-American culture, emancipation and enduring hope” was met with immediate backlash. A children’s museum in Indianapolis offered a “Juneteenth Watermelon Salad” for purchase. After a photo surfaced on the internet, the museum immediately issued an apology. These are both examples of getting your messaging wrong on Juneteenth.  

Brief History

For those who don’t know, Juneteenth is a federal holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans. On June 19, 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger announced General Order 3, proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas, which was the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery. While many black communities have celebrated this day for years, it became widely acknowledged by brands after President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day into law on June 17, 2021.


Brands often look to align themselves with holiday messaging or marketing as a way to connect with their audience. As with other holidays, it’s important to do research before creating complementary marketing campaigns. If your brand doesn’t have a commitment to diversity and inclusion, it’s time to invest in one. This is an opportunity to amplify black voices. If your company has African-American employees, ask if they would like to get involved. It’s vital that this attempt to include African-American employees is genuine and not performative.


With Juneteenth just becoming a federal holiday last year, many consumers are still unfamiliar with the reason they have June 19th off from work. Firms can use their social media messaging as an opportunity to educate their audience. Providing additional educational resources can show that you’re committed to your audience having a better understanding of Juneteenth. 

While it’s nice to have a day off from work, this holiday is very important to the black community, and should be to other communities. In the midst of all that’s currently going on in the world, it’s a time to reflect on how far we’ve come, while still acknowledging we have a lot of work to do. Juneteenth can be a great day for brands to express their appreciation for the black community, but it must be done correctly and authentically. 

If you need guidance on your messaging, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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