Michaela Coel, the Labour Party and Social Media Boycotts

Authors: Jece Shunmugam, Zoe Dawson, Kate Savin
  • Reading time: 6 min.
  • Posted on: September 21, 2020

Read on for a hand picked selection of the good, the bad and the one to watch in the world of social impact communications. This week, we’re highlighting Michaela Coel as the face of Oxfam, Labour Party’s new slogan, and a celebrity boycott of Facebook and Instagram.

Credit: Oxfam


Michaela Cole is the newest face of Oxfam’s #SecondhandSeptember campaign which encourages people to only buy second-hand clothes in September in a bid to stop fuelling fast fashion. 

Most people are aware of fast fashion’s detrimental impact on the environment, but the cost and limited sizing of more sustainable clothing options tend to limit where people can shop. But when the fashion sector is the second-largest polluter of water in a time when water is becoming extremely scarce, more options and action are urgently needed. 

That makes Oxfam’s campaign to encourage second-hand shopping more than welcome. And with Michaela Coel’s success following the hugely well-received ‘I May Destroy You’, the campaign should do well to encourage fast fashion’s traditional shoppers to buy pre-loved clothes.  

What we love about the campaign is that it looks like a typical fashion advertisement, but it’s not Moschino, its Oxfam. It celebrates second-hand clothes, showing how you can still be a trendsetter whilst wearing someone else’s old clothes. But aside from the aesthetic, what makes the campaign truly work is that it aligns with someone known for their originality and authenticity. The choice of Coel is, therefore, a smart one – you immediately believe that this is someone who would hunt for and wear second-hand clothes, a rarity in the influencer age. No wonder then, that the campaign has already been well-received, making small waves on social media.

But what we’re still unsure about is whether these types of campaigns, with celebrity ambassadors at their helm, will only help to further reduce access to essential clothes at charity shops for those who need it most. So-called charity shop gentrification sees people snapping up clothes, reselling at higher prices and limiting options available for those who rely solely on second-hand clothes. Still, a movement away from fast-fashion is one to celebrate – let’s just ensure those who need access to second-hand clothes the most aren’t cut out in the meantime.

The Labour Party's new look


Over the weekend, the Labour Party revealed their new, three word slogan: “A New Leadership.” Technically true, as it has been since Kier Starmer took over from Jeremy Corbyn in April, but not particularly enlightening. We can probably all agree that separating Starmer from Labour’s previous leadership was wise after their landslide election defeat, and the new line makes it quite clear that we’re not at Corbyn’s party any more. But what the slogan provides in sass, it lacks in purpose. The rebrand marks a move from the left to more centrist policies, aligning with the public’s view that Labour is being shifted to the right, but does “A New Leadership” make us any clearer on Labour’s visions for the UK in what must be one of the most unstable years in recent history? 

The rebranding effort feels both dry and rather general. The website is very corporate, which, besides the red border, could belong to anyone. “Our movement has always been about people coming together,” it says on the site, but couldn’t that be said for any movement? The brand, with its new line, feels as though it was created in the office of a political comms agency, miles away from the grassroots movement that Corbyn’s Labour embodied. 

While the handful of words under a logo can’t do the work of an entire manifesto, a good strapline might sway a customer from one brand to another – so why should a political brand be any different? We saw it in 2016 when the clear incentive “Take Back Control” was plastered across Leave communications to leave a sputtering, silent Remain campaign in the dust. Dismally, we saw it work again with “Make America Great Again.”

Voters need substance and objectives to latch onto, which the new Labour brand isn’t giving away with ease. The rebrand may mark a shift for Labour, but it does not offer the new visions – or personality – of a new era. Hopefully, The New Leadership is better than the new slogan. 

Kim Kardashian boycotts Facebook


A movement to clean up social media platforms has accelerated this summer. In July, Facebook suffered a month long boycott from big advertisers such as Adidas, Starbucks and and Coca Cola, started by the American civil rights campaign group #StopHateForProfit. At a time when conspiracy theories are gaining popularity online and leading to serious real life consequences, the campaign is holding social media platforms to account for both allowing and profiting from the spread of dangerous misinformation and hate speech.

Last week, #StopHateForProfit upped the ante for their September Week of Action. A rash of celebrities decided it was their turn to join in the fight, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian West. They boycotted Facebook and Instagram for a day, with Kim Kardashian West’s announcement instantly wiping millions off its stock value.

Explaining her decision on Twitter, Kardashian West said: ‘I can’t sit by and stay silent while these platforms continue to allow the spreading of hate, propaganda and misinformation… [which] has a serious impact on our elections and undermines our democracy.’ 

Similar to Extinction Rebellion’s approach, #StopHateForProfit are using direct action that disrupts revenue whilst capturing headlines. Though each individual day or month of action may not directly force platforms to change their approach, it’s certainly making users stop scrolling and take notice. Coinciding with the release of Netflix’s The Social Dilemma, which exposes the role users play in income generation, it feels like calls for change are reaching a critical mass. 

Unsurprisingly, #StopHateForProfit doesn’t have social media, but you can follow their journey and get involved via their website.