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P&G: Widen the Screen

Client: P&G
Date: Mar 2021
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On and off screen, the representation of Black people is an ongoing problem, that results in damaging stereotypes. The fact of the matter is less than 6% of writers, directors and producers of US-produced films are Black, while only eight of 1,447 directors identified as Black women. And, on screen, 33% of the top 100 films in 2019 had no Black girls or women in any speaking or named roles.

With ads, TV and films often written by white creators, this offers a narrow view of Black culture, where stories are often portrayed as one of two extremes - struggle or triumph.

An ally to all, Procter and Gamble (P&G) is once again using its power and influence to address systemic inequalities that exist in the ad industry.

With 'Widen the Screen' it is taking action with an initiative designed to expand the development of Black creators in film, television and advertising, aiming to confront racial stereotypes.

'Widen the Screen' is devised to give opportunities to Black creators by fueling investment in Black-owned media. Through this, it hopes to bring awareness to impactful programming and cultural events, such as Gia Peppers' 'More Than That Podcast'. It says it will also work directly with media providers to expand the number of Black-owned and operated companies on P&G's rosters, to improve its media performance.

As part of the initiative, it has teamed up with SpringHill Entertainment, a Black-owned film production studio, collaborating on a project that takes people on the journey of a young boy's imagination, to showcase a range of opportunities open to him, beyond athletics.

It also hopes to reclaim time stolen from Black communities, joining forces with Saturday Morning, Tribeca Studios, alongside multiple Black storytellers to create scripted stories told in 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

To announce the initiative, P&G has released an emotive film that encourages people to confront internalised prejudice. It follows the lives of three groups of Black people - a bunch of kids that enter a shop, a woman leaving the supermarket with her kids, and a man making his way to an undisclosed location.

The ads work to subvert the viewer, showing how ingrained Black stereotypes lead people to assume the characters as thugs or down and out when they're just normal American citizens getting about their normal day.

'Widen the Screen' joins a long list of P&G initiatives, designed to combat racism and bias. In 2017, it won an Emmy for 'The Talk' - a heart-wrenching video that centred on the conversation Black parents have with their children, to educate them about racial prejudices and bias they may face because of the colour of their skin.

This was followed by 'The Look' in 2019, a film that honed in on the looks Black people receive every day, and 'The Choice' in 2020 that asked white people to use their power in America to actively combat racism.