Culture Hack

Celebrating AAPI Month: Campaign Highlights

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month should be a call to action in understanding the cultural nuisances and experiences of the AAPI community. It’s also a time to unpack the systemic challenges including the ‘Model Minority Myth’ and other harmful stereotypes. Brands have a unique opportunity to tailor their messaging and representation beyond stereotypes and lead conversations that foster social cohesion, lead collaboration, cooperation, and the building of strong communities. 

 This year, Nike released its ‘You Can’t Stop Us’ campaign, which highlights and shares “stories and experiences from athletes of AAPI descent who’ve broken down barriers through sport”. Beyond donations and conversations, we are also beginning to see brands take actionable steps by identifying pivotal moments/experiences in individuals’ lives that profoundly influence how the world engages with the AAPI community.

One of these areas is Asian cuisine, which is renowned for its diversity, encompassing a wide range of flavors, ingredients, and cooking styles. From the delicate flavors of Japanese sushi to the bold spices of certain Indian cuisines, the popularity of Asian cuisine has certainly risen in recent years. However, many AAPI individuals can “recall childhood experiences of being mocked for bringing their cultural cuisines to school”. 

Brands such as Postmates are “flipping this narrative with a celebration of dishes that were once the subject of disdain. The “School Lunch” program is a collaboration with some of Los Angeles’ best AAPI chefs to make lunches inspired by those meals. Another example is the food and biotech company, Ajinomoto which has a longstanding history of challenging the xenophobic attitudes surrounding MSG. In 2022, the brand “teamed up with former labor organizer turned standup comedian, writer, and actor Jenny Yang for the “#DinnerWithGoop” campaign which taps into Yang’s talent for informing audiences about issues of injustice through laughter”. 

The cultural diversity within the AAPI community is a testament to how individuals can broaden their perspectives, expand their knowledge, and gain a deeper appreciation for the richness and beauty of human diversity. While brands have indeed stepped up in addressing the social and cultural challenges of these communities, representation beyond donations and into cultural nuances remains to be seen. 

Naomi Augustin