I Hope Wieden & Kennedy Wins No Advertising Awards for Their #BlackLivesMatter Statement

I Hope Wieden & Kennedy Wins No Advertising Awards for Their #BlackLivesMatter Statement

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Maybe visit Wieden & Kennedy’s website today. They are an advertising company and their website currently hosts the most amazing piece of advertising: a powerful, single-minded message executed timeously and poignantly.

Advertising gold. Award-winning stuff.

And with the Cannes Awards still positively steaming, it’s easy to jump to think of the category to enter it into for whatever award shows are coming up next.

But stop.

Wieden & Kennedy, I hope you win no awards for this. I hope that you don’t enter it. Because what you have done here does not need validation, especially from shiny, golden shelf trinkets. In fact, the gold would look a little frivolous next to the black.

It also needs no PR statement, no fresh hashtag and although it certainly has space to grow offline, I hope it is not orchestrated, budgets proposed and client signed off on the idea.

And Wieden & Kennedy, I won’t congratulate you on doing this, the statement explains itself perfectly: “Just acknowledging this because it should be acknowledged.” There is no need to praise what should be the norm.

But why is this not the norm? I’m not talking about famous people here, but about the individuals, the people who make up companies.

The only way to fight against this cancer is for the whole body to fight against it. But that takes cells in the body, looking around and seeing the bad in cells that look suspiciously similar to themselves,  to acknowledge the sickness and to confront it. Where are the police officers who are standing up not to defend themselves but to acknowledge the bad in other police officers and to demand change?

And yet the individual who stood up and said this within W&K deserves praise. It started with a message from one employee to their co-workers as an internal email, which then expanded to become something so much bigger. Sometimes the things we do and don’t do because of wanting to seem work-appropriate make us miss out on the things that keep us human. But this person looked beyond that. So, thank you.

Thank you for saying it. We might never know your exact feelings that drove you to write it, but thank you for writing it in a way that echoes how people are feeling after the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, more recently, but also how people have felt about Orlando, murdered police officers, Turkey, an array of events we could change profile pictures for (and not) and for that child in the backseat who has a very different idea of home videos now that her family’s captures such hate and sadness.

It’s not just about death. We can halve the number of deaths and then do it again and the issue won’t change. It’s about what’s lurking there every day.

It’s about injustice.

It’s about hate.

And it’s about having to wake up tomorrow and face it all again.



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