Black & Abroad, a travel brand catering to Black audiences that usually focuses on international travel, pivoted to domestic travel during the pandemic. And through a stunning data visualization project from the agency Performance Art, it produced a remarkable tool for interacting directly with America’s vast network of Black-owned businesses and cultural organizations.
‘Black Elevation Map’ raised up Black businesses through 330 million data points
Performance Art developed the “Black Elevation Map,” a visualization of the map of the U.S. based on some 330 million data points—revealing where Black-owned businesses and cultural institutions are likely to be present, and in what abundance. It visualized that Black cultural data as elevation—the greater the density of data, the higher the elevation on the virtual map.
The insight behind the project was simple and powerful: When marginalized communities navigate the world, they’re asked to do so using tools that prioritize someone else’s worldview. But when you change the tools, you change the experience.
The campaign included the main BlackElevationMap.com site, as well as a launch film titled “A Hymn Away From Home” (above), along with 27 mini-documentaries about individual businesses and geotargeted, signal-triggered online media.
The results were potent: a 302% increase in traffic to BlackAndAbroad.com, a 360% increase in unique visitors and a 971% increase in event and merch sales.
“‘Black Elevation Map’ is one of the best ideas I’ve seen in the last five years, easy,” said one Creativity Awards juror. “Taking the idea of a Green Book and making it a data-inspired thing that can tell you about the African-American and the Black diaspora experience through a visualization of the map of the United States—it’s an incredible idea. And it’s beautifully executed. The craft is flawless.”