Advertising Week

Procter & Gamble Commits to Saturday Morning Peace and Equality Initiative

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Jimmy Smith, center, at Advertising Week 2016.
Jimmy Smith, center, at Advertising Week 2016. Credit: Courtesy Toni Lee
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Procter & Gamble and Syracuse University have signed onto the cause of Saturday Morning, a coalition for peace and change around racial inequality formed earlier this year by African-American creative leaders Keith Cartwright, Geoff Edwards, Jayanta Jenkins and Jimmy Smith, the group said Thursday at an event during Advertising Week.

Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard and Damon Jones, P&G's director for global company communications, reached out to the nonprofit a few days ago and said, "Consider us in," according to Mr. Smith, chairman, CEO and chief creative officer of Amusement Park.

"Among the ways our brands can make the world a better place is through our voice in advertising," Mr. Pritchard said in a statement provided by a spokeswoman. "We have an opportunity and a responsibility to create advertising that both builds our brands and positively represents the people we serve --particularly African Americans. We look forward to working with the Saturday Morning team to learn more and continue to promote positive conversations, hope, and the power of diversity and inclusion."

The organization, which says it has received more than 800 emails from interested parties since the announcement of its formation in August, also outlined its first quarterly "peace brief," or focus area. The initial peace brief will center on police officers, the communities they serve and reducing violence. Just this year, 884 U.S. citizens have been killed by police officers, and 51 police officers have been killed in the line of duty, the coalition said.

Projects around the first peace brief will likely start in 2017, said Mr. Cartwright, executive creative director of Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners.

Saturday Morning is seeking three kinds of participants: individuals, businesses and universities. "We're saying everyone is a part of this agency Saturday Morning," Mr. Cartwright said. "Everyone is involved and we're expecting you to create and make."

The one thing that Saturday Morning is not looking for is ads. Nor will it function as an agency that will compete against other shops.

Individuals are encouraged to upload their ideas on Saturday Morning's website. The nonprofit will then try to bring those ideas to light with sponsorships and donations from businesses, universities and other organizations. Mr. Smith said the individual who comes up with the idea will get credit, but the bigger picture is that "we're doing this for the nation."

University involvement is key also because that's where people begin realizing their voices and becoming individuals, said Mr. Edwards, creative executive at Creative Artists Agency.

Mr. Smith said people and businesses, whether they're in the advertising industry or not, can submit any ideas, artwork or music or proposed pieces of legislation to help further the cause. "Let's attack this problem in a different way," he said.

For the first peace brief, Mr. Smith said the organization "definitely, absolutely" must communicate that the majority of police officers are "dope and awesome and it'd be complete chaos without them."

"We have to figure out a way for those positive officers voices to be heard," he said. "For some reason, even though they're the majority, they're voices aren't being heard."

Kwame Taylor-Hayford, partner at Sid Lee, who joined the coalition shortly after it was formed, said Saturday Morning wants to "hack the media model" and generate a lot of earned media with "non-ad-like objects."

Saturday Morning will require some paid media at some point, which will likely be pushed through with the help of a brand coalition, but Mr. Taylor-Hayford said the nonprofit will rely a lot on its website, social media, press, native partners, print, music and partnerships.

"The greater goal of Saturday Morning would be that one day we no longer need to exist," said Mr. Jenkins, global group creative director at Twitter. "We want to create inclusion, empathy, perception change and love for one another, and it's high-minded goal, but I think ultimately it's where we need to be."