- Procter & Gamble (P&G) released "The Look," a film that highlights biases that many black American men encounter. The film was produced in collaboration with Saturday Morning, a collective of advertising industry execs aiming to shift perceptions on racial bias and injustice, per the company's press release.
- In the film, a black man experiences a variety of uncomfortable "looks." He sees drivers roll up their windows as his son waves to a young girl in the back seat, watches elevator occupants shut him out before he can board and catches retail workers following him while he shops, according to the statement. The film debuted last week at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France and BET Networks' inaugural social impact conference, META Convened by BET Networks, in Los Angeles.
- P&G over the past year partnered with BET Networks on Black Men Revealed, a study examining data on narratives in media and entertainment, including those on parental involvement, relationship status and economic efforts. The company shared insights from the study with advocacy groups to enable more accurate, positive portrayals of black men in film, TV and news, which have played a role in influencing society's racial prejudices, according to the statement.
With "The Look," P&G is returning to the narrative it began with 2017's "The Talk," a resonant campaign that focused on how black mothers prepare their children for a racially biased world. "The Look" demonstrates several examples of racial bias, giving a wide range of consumers a sense of what many black men face.
"Empathy can be a particularly effective antidote to bias, and we created 'The Look' to change perspectives, prompt personal introspection, and bring people together for a conversation to ultimately change hearts and minds," Marc Pritchard, P&G's chief brand officer, said in the press release.
"The Look" is an example of what Pritchard has called "a world with no ads:" enriching content and experiences that don't resemble traditional advertising. The video doesn't attempt to market products or the brand, but rather looks to ignite a conversation about an important sociopolitical topic. Along with "The Talk," it follows similarly purpose-driven efforts like P&G's push for gender equality and subsidiary brand Gillette's "We Believe" ad and #MyBestSelf campaign.
While P&G is looking to address racial bias with "The Look" and its Black Men Revealed study, the brand could be in danger of being seen as "woke-washing" if it doesn't back up its lofty messaging with real-world actions. While consumers want brands to act in purpose-driven ways, 53% of consumers think brands "trustwash," or aren't as committed to society as they claim, according to Edelman's 2019 Trust Barometer Special Report.