It would be tough to pick a worse year to start a business than 2020. But just a few weeks before the pandemic shut down much of the U.S., Saturday Morning Co-Founder Keith Cartwright hung out a shingle, armed with a handful of staff and even fewer clients. But despite that unlucky start, the accomplishments of his eponymous shop in its inaugural year—high-profile campaigns for Procter & Gamble and the National Basketball Association; essential thought leadership in a time of crisis and change; and $5 million in revenue—earned it a spot on the Ad Age A-List out of the gate, a feat rarely matched in the long history of these accolades.
Last summer, as the public insisted that brands needed to take a stand against racism and institutional violence, P&G turned to Cartwright. “After George Floyd was killed, it became clear that racial inequity and injustice could no longer remain solely on the shoulders of the Black community, and that while many in the white community wanted to step up, they were uncertain on what to do,” says Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at P&G. “Together with Cartwright and Grey, we created ‘The Choice’ to inspire the white community to step up to make the choice to take action and be anti-racist.” (Cartwright is backed by Grey parent WPP.)
“The Choice” picked up the narrative from previous P&G spots “The Talk” and “The Look,” which exposed white audiences—many for the first time—to some of the burden of being Black in America. “The Choice,” created in just 10 days, flipped the mirror, turning it (and the responsibility to change things) toward the viewer. “It was at a time when the world was reeling,” says Cartwright, president and chief creative officer at the agency. “So it was a bit of a no-brainer—we have to do this, we have to figure out how to make this work. The pressure was not to mess up.” In its first 20 days, “The Choice” received 528 million impressions across all channels.
“Keith Cartwright is a creative genius who transforms profound human insights into powerful ideas that move society and humanity forward,” adds Pritchard.