With the kickoff to Black History Month this week, agencies are beginning to promote their various diversity initiatives and celebrations. (Of course, the best initiative is to simply hire a diverse staff and ensure they have the means to succeed and grow within the company.)
O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul is celebrating Black History Month by showcasing Chicago’s wide-ranging and lesser-known Black music history. Throughout February, in conjunction with 2020 being named the Year of Chicago Music, the Chicago-based agency will be promoting all the songs and sounds that originated in the city's South Side between 1955 and 1990.
The initiative includes a four-week, four-part multimedia library of video essays, interviews, playlists, artifacts and more. In partnership with Vince Lawrence, producer and pioneer of house music, OKRP launched #312Soul, which explores all of the music and culture beyond the well-documented Chicago Blues scene. (Fun fact: OKRP's office in Chicago is located on Frankie Knuckles Way, named after another early house music innovator, Francis Warren Nicholls, Jr.)
“Chicago music has been at the forefront of music culture for the last 50 years,” Lawrence says. “Almost every relevant culture shift in black music has stemmed from Chicago as of late, changing the face of music as we know it. Chicago has given birth to some of the greatest artists of all time who have in turn had profound influence on other artists around the world. Just consider the impact of Chicago’s Curtis Mayfield, Etta James, Kanye West, Chaka Khan, Chance the Rapper, Earth Wind & Fire, Lupe Fiasco, Ramsey Lewis and the list goes on."
#312Soul takes a deep dive into the gospel music of the late 1950s and early '60s; the political and purpose-driven songs of soul artist Curtis Mayfield; the “Horn Sound of Chicago”; and the birth of house music, among other topics. Among the first video sessions conducted by Lawrence is a conversation with Grammy Hall of Famer Gene Chandler, who explains how he created the 1962 number-one hit “Duke of Earl” (which became his nickname) during a warm-up exercise with his band. There is also a feature on the women who drove Chicago music, the “Soulstress Spotlight,” like The Opals and Chaka Khan. The content, which includes playlists, will be deployed on a weekly basis throughout the month, by era, with week one being dedicated to the 1955-1966 decade.
A taste of Iceland
Icelandic Provisions answers all your burning questions about the Nordic island alternative to yogurt: Skyr. It’s like yogurt but thicker. It’s pronounced like “skeer.” What else? Oh yeah, it’s nutritious and you should buy it. That’s the gist of this humorous campaign from agency Circus Maximus for Icelandic Provisions, a Skyr brand. The agency and company leaned on only Icelandic partners to create the campaign, with the exception of New York-based Circus Maximus itself. The campaign employed Sagafilm Productions, a Kópavogur-based company that’s worked on films like Interstellar and Star Trek: Into the Darkness, and Director Hawk Bjorgvinsson. The series of videos (a 30-second one included below) was filmed over five months in the Icelandic coastal village of Vík. The characters, Jón & Guðmundur, are played by Reykjavík improv actors Jörundur Ragnarsson and Bragi Árnason. The team says it braved 20-degree weather and 50 mph winds, with just over three hours of natural daylight per day, to film eight separate spots. The campaign, which kicked off in Washington, D.C. this month, includes geo-targeted social and digital content, as well as out-of-home components like transit takeovers.
“It’s safe to say that this was one of the most rewarding, yet challenging, campaigns that our team has been able to work on,” Circus Maximus Founder Ryan Kutscher says.