Saturday, June 19, 2021

Netflix Weighed Running of ‘Strong Black Lead’ Ad Days After Firing PR Chief for Using ‘N-Word’ in a Meeting

Jonathan Friedland
Jonathan Friedland

*Netflix says it briefly reconsidered premiering a new commercial featuring 47 of its black creators and talent during the BET Awards Sunday night, because it came two days after the streaming service fired its public relations chief Jonathan Friedland for using the N-word.

The streaming service says its new “Strong Black Lead” commercial – promoting a new initiative launched this year that represents its ongoing focus to talk authentically with black audiences – was in the works long before Friedland used the N-word on multiple occasions at work and displayed what CEO Reed Hastings referred to as “unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity.”

Friedland first uttered the word during a PR meeting about sensitive words, after which several employees present told him how inappropriate and hurtful his use of the word was. He then used the word again in front of two black employees in Netflix’s human resources group who were trying to help him deal with his original offense. “The second incident confirmed a deep lack of understanding, and convinced me to let Jonathan go now,” wrote Hastings in an internal memo Hastings sent to staff on Friday.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Netflix debated internally on Friday and into the weekend whether to run the Strong Black Lead spot as scheduled or pull it due to the Friedland incident — but the team ultimately decided that it would be wrong to erase the work of so many people of color due to Friedland’s actions.

Watch the ad and read more details about its creation below, via The Hollywood Reporter:

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