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Responses by Jaye Thompson, art director and Langston Williams, senior strategist

Background: Our intent with this proposal was to address the trend of vapid social media activism and hijack those behaviors to encourage more awareness for Black men and women who are subject to racial profiling and violence. Rather than waiting for the inevitable “next time,” we wanted to create a campaign that humanized Black Americans; something that could spark deeper discussions and promote the need for reform. We wanted to speak to those who are looking to understand more as well as those who may not have ever considered the Black experience.

Reasoning: We asked ourselves the questions, “What would the media headlines say about us? What hashtags would trend? How might we be summed up in 140 characters?”. Those questions are all about how other people have the power to define us. We knew this could be an opportunity for us to take back control of our narrative and catalyze those people in our network who are on the sidelines.

Challenges: Now trying to take it from the proposal brief stages and transforming it into an actual campaign. The project has been received quite positively, so we feel driven to bring it to life while we have some good momentum. Ensuring that the idea and the sentiments that we started out with remain authentic throughout the whole project is of the utmost importance to us, and we are committed to seeing it through.

Favorite details: How we were able to deliver depth and simplicity in our creative assets. When we first discussed the work we wanted to create, it needed to be able to speak for itself if people came across it with no context. As such, the feedback we’ve received about how the images we selected feel so powerful on their own have been appreciated. Moreover, by making the copy contextually relevant to the social media platforms it’s set to be on, it makes people reevaluate the role social media plays. People’s attentions are fleeting, so the fact our work is holding people’s gaze makes us proud.

Time constraints: Our initial plan was to create a project related to Black Lives Matter as a 48-hour creative sprint. Halfway into the sprint, we realized our initial insight could lead to a campaign that had a wider impact on the issues we sought to solve. Speed was still a consideration but we wanted to put the proper time into making something that could have staying power. Then, in the middle of our second week, George Floyd got murdered. The time constraint shifted from something internal to something external because for every day that passed, there was a chance another Black life could be lost. In the time since we put out the spec campaign, 120 Black people have been killed. For those reasons, we’re doing everything in our power to get this made as soon as we can.

Specific demands: We needed to collaborate remotely. We had to find ways to respond to the limitations brought on by COVID. By not being able to be in the room together, we had to find ways to stay connected to the work we were doing. When compounded by the fact these were big problems we were trying to make sense of, our having to talk about a solution through Zoom was a real challenge.

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