Gamble's ad 'The Talk' stirs social conversation about the perils of
By Stacy M. Brown
(August 8, 2017) Procter & Gamble kicked off the 10th anniversary
celebration of the "My Black is Beautiful" campaign by releasing a
commercial titled "The Talk," featuring African-American women
discussing the realities of being Black in America and warning their
children about the perils of racism.
"The Talk" sparked fierce reaction across the nation; ironically,
conservative media outlets attacked the campaign, calling it divisive
Kristine Decker, Procter & Gamble's (P&G) North American Media and Brand
Operations Director said that the company wasn't trying to alienate
anyone with "The Talk."
"We felt like it was an opportunity to start a dialogue about bias,"
said Decker. "We've been on a mission to talk about bias in many forms
and we decided, as part of our 'My Black is Beautiful' campaign, to take
on the topic of bias from a racial bias perspective."
The online campaign celebrates the diverse collective beauty of Black
women and encourages them to define and promote their own beauty
standard -- one that's an authentic reflection of the indomitable spirit
of African-Americans, Decker said.
Decker continued: "We went back to the 1950s and we felt that this is
something that we have to talk about and we listened to our consumers
and we spent time trying to understand what other stories needed to be
In the short video, a young, African-American girl tells her mother that
someone said that she's, "pretty for a Black girl."
Another scene, set in the present, shows a mother sitting in the
passenger seat of a car, preparing to give her daughter a driving
lesson. The mother begins to tell her daughter what she should do when
she's pulled over by the police.
"This is not about you getting a ticket," the mother says. "This is
about you not coming home."
At the end of the video, viewers are urged to "talk about 'the talk,' so
we can end the need to have it."
Decker said that many parents have the 'birds and the bees' talk, but
Black parents have a very different conversation they need to have with
"It's about race and what it's like growing up Black," said Decker.
While some condemned the ad, others expressed support.
"I think it is horrible that we live in this reality where this ad is
even needed," said Rafael Navar, an advisory board member for the Dream
Defenders, a civil rights group that launched in Florida in the wake of
the 2012 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
"The realities depicted in the ad are all too real for too many young
people living in the United States and it's a travesty that this is the
case," Navar said.
Even though, Navar recognized that the conversations depicted in the
video are all too real for many people, he was concerned with the P&G
using a highly sensitive, real and hurtful subject to promote their
Black Lives Matter officials called the ad encouraging and an example of
how other multi-billion-dollar companies can begin supporting
conversations around race and police violence.
"The conversations featured in the ad illustrate some of the ways Black
parents have attempted to protect Black children for generations in a
country that does not value our lives or the lives of our children,"
said Miski Noor, the communications strategist for Black Lives Matter.
"However, it cannot stop with one ad. The work of undoing racism in this
country must go beyond words and result in action that changes the
material conditions of Black people."
Noor continued: "Companies such as Procter & Gamble should continue to
work not only via garnering publicity for themselves, but also in their
offices, factories and in homes."
Noor said that this moment isn't about the hard conversations that Black
people have been having for generations with our families, it's about
the hard conversations White people need to have about White privilege
and dismantling systemic racism with one another.
Carol H. Williams, who runs one of the largest African-American
advertising and marketing agencies in the country, was skeptical about
the ad, at first.
"Then I recalled when we developed the 'My Black is Beautiful' brand and
the challenges faced at the time by P&G," said Williams. "The research
revealed insights of how women of color had suffered for decades for
society's failure to recognize the unique beauty of women of color.
Williams continued: "So, the very platform of 'My Black is Beautiful'
was founded to eradicate a racist narrative meant to destroy the
self-esteem and the confidence of women of color."
While some debate Proctor & Gamble's intentions, Williams said that
argument is irrelevant.
"P&G has started this narrative and now that it has opened the door, now
what? P&G cannot throw this explosive topic onto their platform and
think that they are done," said Williams.
Williams added: "They will have to spearhead a reconstruction to the
very fibers of this country; it can't just drop the mic. My Black is
Beautiful is the celebration of resilience, strength, working harder,
being smarter and the ability to succeed.
"We need to have a conversation; we can't throw it out there and say,
'commercial over.' We have opened the door to achieve the American Dream
and some of what it takes for us to survive and thrive."
Meanwhile, the NNPA has always been conscious and observant of how
corporate America responds to the persistent and perplexing challenges
of race and inequality in the United States with respect to the quality
of life of Black America, said Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., the president
and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association.
"The fact that Procter & Gamble, as an American corporate leader that
spends over $4 billion annually on advertising, had the courage and
fortitude to develop and release this timely, yet accurate, video about
contemporary racial prejudice in America is noteworthy and very
important," Chavis said.
"The NNPA calls upon other corporate leaders to follow P&G's lead on
this issue toward sustaining a more inclusive, equitable and just
society. The current right-wing attacks on the content of the video only
reveals that P&G is certainly on the right path for freedom, justice and
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