As a marketer, I’ve been awed by the long-established brands that now have planned rebrands to respond to the current racial renaissance. Jim Crow era-rooted brands Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and even Mrs. Butterworth, whose syrup I realize my family never used, but I’m now learning was also very much derived from mammy imagery.
But a friend recently mentioned she’d like to keep one black brand icon dear. And that is Mr. Clean.
I thought Mr. Clean was white. The man on the label is well… tan? Orange? But I was wrong - kind of! He was… but thanks to a contest a few years back, Mr. Clean became a brotha named Mike Jackson (not to be confused with the gloved one!)!
And this one has got the biceps, baldie, and smile to fit the bill, so we want this Mr. Clean to stick around - or come back for some more appearances!!
Mike Jackson: Procter & Gamble
So, I know there is a lot of zest and vigor around delivering black folks and other disenfranchised people of color what *the world* thinks we want, like wearing kente cloth and making sure America recognizes Juneteenth, which is nice and good and all.
But please make sure that’s not at the expense of the things we’re really asking for - like the right to live our lives and get equal pay, equal opportunity, and equal respect.
So I repeat, on a similar, but much more trivial note, on behalf of my friend, in the spirit of course-correcting the righting of wrongs committed over the past several centuries… please don’t get too overzealous and revisit Mr. Clean. She will be really sad.