On Creativity through New Year’s, we’ll be revisiting some of the brand ideas and campaigns that made 2019—and the last decade. Check back on AdAge.com on January 1 for the full lists.
Best of 2019
P&G debuted its seminal film “The Talk” in 2017, garnering accolades that included the Cannes Lion Film Grand Prix as well as an Outstanding Commercial Emmy. The film was praised for portraying a grim reality of the African American experience that not all were familiar with. Yet within the community it hoped to support, it drew criticism as well—for arguably perpetuating the stereotype of the "absent” black father in families. In 2019, however, P&G stepped up and responded, working with creative collective Saturday Morning to tell a powerful new story—one that reflected the unconscious bias that African-American males may face on any given day.
P&G shines a light on the struggles of black men in its latest film to promote its diversity efforts, “The Look.”
The ad, which the marketer previewed at the Cannes Lions festival last week, went live on a dedicated site today. It zeroes in on the unconscious biases that black men are forced to confront on a daily basis, highlighting the barriers to acceptance they face in their everyday lives.
It opens on an African American man staring up from his bed, his blank gaze hinting at some sort of internal struggle. It then follows him as he goes through his routine, walking his son to school, shopping in a store, stepping into a restaurant for a bite to eat. At each point, he encounters “The Look,” suspicious glares and gestures of people around him. A woman raises her car window when her daughter waves at his son, shopkeepers hesitate when he looks at their wares, diner patrons seem to think twice about sitting down when they see him. The spot culminates when the man enters a courtroom—and then takes his seat at the judge's bench.
“The Look” follows P&G’s celebrated film “The Talk,” which illustrated the difficult conversation that black parents must have with their children in order to keep them safe in a world full of prejudice.
In creating the film, P&G teamed with Saturday Morning, the creative collective founded by ad industry vets to conceive ideas and initiatives designed to shift perceptions on racial bias and injustice. Anthony Mandler directed out of Stink Films while Malik Sayeed served as director of photography.
The piece grew out of a tough moment last year, when Geoff Edwards, a co-founder of Saturday Morning brought up issues he had with "The Talk" to P&G exec Randall Smith during judging for the Advertising Club's Andy Awards. Edwards thought that first film failed to properly acknowledge the role of black men in family life and perpetuated negative stereotypes about African American males. After much discussion, P&G and Saturday Morning came together to create "The Look" to address this oversight and open up the conversation about the African American experience even further.
“When we partner with creative people who believe in the importance of equality and inclusion, we can create stories like we’ve never experienced before– because creativity loves diversity,” said P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard in a statement. “And when we embrace creativity through humanity, we can literally change the world by using our voices not only as a force for growth, but as a force for good.”
“Our goal with this film is to urge people to have an honest conversation and not pretend that unconscious bias doesn’t exist,” added Edwards. “The film ends with the line ‘Let’s talk about the look so we can see beyond it.’ This is really a call to action for dialogue.”
“The Look” is running as an online video and is accompanied by a digital experience created by North Kingdom that provides historical context and further educates viewers with on the unconscious biases highlighted in the film.