BALTIMORE — Major brands have entered the digital advocacy space, a move that has been popularized since the emergence of Black Lives Matter. Now more than ever, big brands are choosing to use their platform to align themselves with social justice movements.
Normally, brands want to utilize the platform of a celebrity. But celebrity status is no longer exclusive to that of an actor, singer or athlete -- the new celebrity is the activist. And brands are hopping onto this new trend. While some have yet to implement ad strategies that are not exploitive, others have found ways to create ad campaigns ethically by centering the voices of marginalized communities.
Megan Lewis, 32, from West Baltimore, partnered with Doritos’ initiative ‘SOLID BLACK’ to amplify Black creators and provide them with resources to continue their work. She designed two limited-edition bags, the first, with the face of a Black woman and the second with the face of a Black man.
“They gave me the words resilience, bravery, joy and strength," Lewis said. "I took those words and created the work that you see on the bag. Not only are Black women resilient but we are soft and gentle. We are all of these things."
This is not the first time Doritos called on the Maryland native to create art for their advocacy platform. She was featured in Doritos’ 2020 #AmplifyBlackVoices campaign where she painted a “Protect Blk Women '' mural in response to the killing of Breonna Taylor.
“It’s a lot of responsibility when I draw Black women," she said. "I make sure I make the image as beautiful as possible because images are very powerful and I’m just conscious of that."
Art work by Megan Lewis
Lewis started doing art at the age of six and credits her dad for fostering her creativity. As she got older she began to draw inspiration from the books she read. At 26, she went down a rabbit hole of all things metaphysics and melanin. Naturally, her studies had a huge impact on her work and she began to paint community murals around the city of Baltimore.
“I was learning about certain things -- evolving from a young woman to an adult and you visually get to see that through my work," Lewis said. "I did a mural called evolve and as soon as I did it my work completely changed and it just blossomed."
Lewis represents Baltimore with honor and prides herself on creating art for her own community as a multimedia disciplinary artist. She will be designing a Metro station in Baltimore in collaboration with the city.
She is excited about her artwork being featured on Doritos’ bags and hopes that artists from Maryland continue to get the exposure they deserve.
The bags will go to the first 1,000 fans who donate $10 or more to the National Urban League, the historic nonprofit civil rights organization, through the SOLID BLACK donation page at NUL.org. These funds, in addition to a $100,000 commitment from Doritos, will provide resources and tools for Black entrepreneurs.
“I just hope that people like it," she said. "Black people specifically because it's for them."