Responses by Justin Clagette, brand strategist and Thom Glover, creative director, Droga5
Background: The well-being and success of small business owners was at the core of the one-minute forty-five second film “Unfinished Business.” Our goal of ensuring the success of these entrepreneurs can only be achieved if their values are being recognized—not just by communities of color but by everyone in this country. We hope this initiative encourages support and solidarity for those hit hardest by COVID-19 and pushes a needed conversation around multicultural entrepreneurship and its importance to America’s success.
Reasoning: The issue we set out to solve was one that requires long-term conversations and multiple actions. With this in mind, we focused on rolling out a phased approach that not only addressed an immediate need for small businesses but also served as a long-term commitment to help. The $3 million recovery program was initially designed to help these businesses fill short-term gaps in revenue. However, when we were speaking with small businesses, we knew that this could not be a short-term relationship. “Unfinished Business” is built to be a long-standing initiative focused on long-term support, and Hennessy is committed to ensuring that the relationship we form with these businesses goes beyond the initial $3 million.
Challenges: Identifying the proper role Hennessy should be playing during this time and then moving forward with the suitable messaging to ensure that role was achieved. The result led to Hennessy pushing a conversation around “the value and integral role entrepreneurs of color play in the success of our communities.”
Favorite details: The holistic approach to addressing diversity throughout the entire creative process. Not only did we focus on placing small businesses in front of the camera, but we also ensured that people of color were the ones bringing this initiative to life. For example, the music in the film is played by the jazz pianist Julius Rodriguez, an associate of the Williamsburg Music Center, one of the businesses featured in the film. After director Haley Anderson discussed the project with Julius, he began to improvise on the piano based on the conversation. The resulting piece became the backbone around which the film was then edited—a moment of spontaneous on-set magic and a beautiful testament to the stories of struggle and resilience that each of the small-business owners told.
Visual influences: We wanted to get away from the much-used “life under COVID-19” imagery and, instead, capture life at street level. With this in mind, our director shot with a micro crew, combing the streets of the city for unexpected shots and opted for cameras that lent the footage a home-video feel.
Anything new: The project challenged us to have difficult conversations both internally as well as externally with the client. From the outset, it was clear that this would require honest conversations and input from the people of color within the agency. Tapping into the unique perspectives of our own workforce at the agency as well as our community partners—One Hundred Black Men, Hispanic Federation and Asian American Business Development Center—kept our conversations candid and the work sensitive to these times.