Martin Luther King Jr. nearly predicted his death in his famous final speech, “I’ve been to the mountaintops” where he compared Moses view from the mountaintop into the promised land to his prophetic mountaintop view of freedom for negroes though he may never get to see the day himself. The next day he was shot to death.
Throughout the speech, King persuaded immediate action through marketing. He asked listeners to boycott Coca-Cola, WonderBread, and a few other grocery store regulars. He also marketed for local, black-owned businesses and encouraged folks to move their money to black-owned banks. The next day he was shot.
These were the final public words of the Civil Rights Movement leader. Marketing had an enormous impact on the way black people are treated today as some of the most powerful companies in the world were forced to stand up in a city where so many wanted to quietly stay seated.
4 years earlier, Coca-Cola urged ‘white elites’ to attend MLK’s Nobel Peace Prize dinner after embarrassingly few tickets were sold for the event initially. But even Mayor Ivan Allen had to persuade Coke to speak out then.
Though Coca-Cola has tried to remain quiet, negative marketing has forced them into a key player in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, Coca-Cola has a Civil Rights section on their website as they seek to stand as brand that stands out and evade further negative marketing. Even Marketing can help advance justice.