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Ads We Like: Black & Abroad puts satirical twist on racist rhetoric in US

Go Back To Africa

If you can’t beat them, join them – that’s exactly what cultural collective Black & Abroad does in its latest ‘Go Back to Africa’ campaign, rehashing the derogatory phrase to instead encourage Black clients to travel more, especially to the African continent.

The campaign video opens on a typed message reading, “You should go back to Africa, then maybe you’ll appreciate this country.” That's just one example of the rhetoric used against Black people in the US, often used online and through social media. Messages containing the phrase at some capacity are then superimposed on images of racial violence that have taken place historically in the country and have since resurfaced amid the current political climate.

The turning point of the ad comes when the phrase is posed as a question, and received as a “good idea”, spurring a compilation of footage from Africa, displaying the continent’s landscapes, wildlife, culture, history and other positive features. 

Intended to discourage stereotypes and instead promote a more diverse and realistic view, the ad uses images and clips posted by Black travelers while taking trips across the 54 African countries, and an AI platform designed to work against the biased preferences of white tourists in typical travel industry ads.

The functions of the digital platform, which is fueled by Google Vision and crafted by FCB/SIX, include locating, quality control and gaining permissions for the images of people of color traveling in Africa. It earned a Cannes Lion Grand Prix for its efforts.

"We're proud to be changing the conversation during a time of global unrest by showing more diverse pictures of this rich continent and debunking negative myths and stereotypes," said Eric Martin, co-founder of Black & Abroad, in a release. "We encourage others to get involved and rethink how they're influencing or reinforcing negative stereotypes instead of positive actions."  

Ian Mackenzie, chief creative officer of FCB/SIX added: "This campaign demonstrates that by being creative, we have the ability to affect change and turn something that's often negative into something that's beautiful and positive. We hope the rest of the world will join us in recognizing that language is powerful, and we all have the ability to effect positive change."

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