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How Native Tongue Communications is empowering aspiring Black animators

June 14, 2023 | 5 min read

The campaign won in the Disruption category at The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas 2023.

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Credit: Native Tongue Communications

Native Tongue Communications teamed up with Peanuts Worldwide for a campaign establishing a scholarship as well as career-building opportunities at Howard University and Hampton University.

The Brief

Less than 4% of all animators are Black; Native Tongue Communications (NTC) and Peanuts Worldwide decided to increase that number.

The Idea

To achieve that goal, Peanuts Worldwide launched ’The Armstrong Project,’ named in honor of Charles Schulz’s iconic character Franklin Armstrong. It establishes $200,000 in endowments at Howard University and Hampton University – both historically Black universities. The program’s purpose is to create direct change by increasing the number of Black artists in the fields of animation, illustration and cartooning. The initiative includes an annual scholarship to students working toward degrees in any of those fields and also ensures mentorship and internship opportunities for the students with individuals and companies.

Through an annual scholarship, Peanuts Worldwide is changing the world through the new and imaginative use of iconic Peanuts characters. The program has given it instant impact, visibility and recognition, and it has been able to exceed its goals and give back to the Black community in record time.

Back in 1968, a Peanuts fan named Harriet Glickman had the idea that the comic should include a Black character. While not Black herself, Harriet was concerned about the state of our society, wanting to help in any way she could. Harriet felt that Peanuts would be a great way to begin healing the racially divided United States. She sent her idea to Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, and after some significant thought on his ability to authentically voice such a character, he agreed. That communication led to the creation of Franklin Armstrong, who first appeared as a member of the Peanuts gang on July 31, 1968. As Peanuts Worldwide embarks on its mission to increase Black representation within the field of animation, it remembers that Mr Schulz and Ms Glickman began this journey with a desire to change the attitudes and perspectives of an entire nation.

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The Results

Thus far, ’The Armstrong Project’ has produced outstanding results:

  • Significant applications from across both schools.

  • Increased student engagement and participation in animation and illustration majors within both schools’ art departments.

  • Millions of earned impressions through a digital PR campaign.

Not only has it created a ’seat at the table’ for aspiring Black animators, but it has also pulled back the chair and welcomed them with open arms.

This campaign won at The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas 2023. Find out more about The Drum’s Global Awards program or head to our case studies hub to read more award-winning stories.

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