Netflix ‘Strong Black Lead’ Spot Airs Days After Its Top PR Exec Was Fired for Using the N-Word
A spot on Sunday’s BET Awards is getting a lot of attention.
The spot, created by Netflix’s Strong Black Lead team, featured 47 of the company’s black creators and talent. While the content of the spot was notable in itself—it was inspired by legendary 1958 photo “A Great Day in Harlem” by Art Kane—the timing of its airing was what drew the most notice.
The commercial aired just two days after Netflix (NFLX) announced that it had fired its top PR executive, Jonathan Friedland, for using the N-word on several occasions. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote in an internal memo on Friday that Friedland had been let go for displaying “unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity” after he had publicly used the N-word in front of Netflix staff.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix had debated internally whether to move forward with airing the spot on Sunday, which had been in the works for months. Ultimately, the team decided “it would be wrong to erase the work of so many people of color due to Friedland’s actions,” reports THR.
The spot features a wide range of prominent creators, including Ava DuVernay, Spike Lee, Laverne Cox, Lena Waithe, and Justin Simien. Spearheaded by Strong Black Lead, a new initiative created by black executives at Netflix, the group sought to highlight the projects of black artists. That effort also includes both live events and social media intended to connect authentically with black audiences.