12 November 2021 by: Stephen Delahunty - thirdsector.co.uk
The Royal British Legion has hit back at critics of its latest Poppy Appeal campaign video after it attracted negative comments on social media.
The video depicts a family and friends of different ethnicities coming together to reflect on why people still observe two minutes' silence on Remembrance Day and its significance for the armed forces community past and present.
But the video, which is fronted by a black woman, was criticised on social media, with one commenter describing the video as “awful” and another appearing to be upset that the video did not feature more white people.
In response to one commenter, the charity said: “Please could you clarify why you feel that showing people who are not white and recognising their contributions is 'nonsense'?
“We believe it's important to recognise all those who have served and are part of the armed forces community.”
Another Twitter user responded: “If that’s so, why have you purposely omitted the contributions of the white armed forces community in this advert?
“Hello,” said the charity. "There is very clearly a white member of the armed forces community featured in this video, so please do clarify as to why you feel they have been excluded from this?”
Many Twitter users rallied around the charity and praised the stance it took, with one user describing the criticism as “nothing more than racism”.
A number of users appeared to delete their tweets after the charity challenged them. Helen Putnam, head of social and content at the RBL, said: “We are committed to sharing content that represents all those who serve or have served in the armed forces, including all races and backgrounds.
“We will not accept racist or abusive comments on our social media pages, and we respond to as many of these comments as we can because it’s important to show all communities that the Royal British Legion and remembrance is inclusive of everyone.” The charity also responded to a tongue-in-cheek tweet from an account called Poppy Watch after it shared a product from its website, a limited edition of spiced rum called Pull the Pin that is branded with a poppy.
Poppy Watch said: “This official Royal British Legion "Pull the Pin" rum is the perfect way to start your boozy PoppyDay celebrations with a BANG! What a fun way to #Remembrance the #GrenadeFallen!” The charity appeared to respond positively to the item and said: “@pullthepinspirits and the other veteran-owned businesses on Veteran’s Market are brilliant examples of how we support vets into employment, and in PTP’s case of how they want to give back to us too after we’ve supported their transition to civvy life.”
But the product is under review and has been removed from the charity’s online shop after a number of complaints. An RBL spokesperson said: “This course of action has been taken as it is important we now focus on Armistice Day and the remembrance weekend. However we remain committed to supporting our veteran community in their employment after service.”