Tell us about your role in the creation of this work.
We’re the creators and creative directors of the campaign.
Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?
In the US, black people are three times more likely than white people to be killed by police officers. And too often those killings occur when the victim was unarmed and nonthreatening. Actually, black victims are 50 percent more likely to be unarmed. This campaign aims to bring awareness to these facts, and, we hope, spark change so those killings can be decreased and eventually stopped entirely.
Tell us about the details creative brief, what did it ask?
It was something that was born out of real life. We are black men in America who live this every day.
Which insight led to the creation of this work?
As a black man, you often have to think twice about ordinary actions.” That’s what played in my head one night when I came home from a night out. I emptied my hoodie and jacket pockets and neatly organized all the things I had on the table—Mentos, keys, metal wallet—and said to myself, ‘I’m lucky to have not gotten stopped by the police.’ It’s a crazy claim to make to yourself, but it’s not that crazy considering you hear on the news that another black man was killed while unarmed. That’s just how I thought about it in that moment. So when I got to the office the next morning, I shared the thought with my creative partner, Rony Castor, and the rest is history: ‘Not a Gun’ was born.”
Was the CCGF an organization you were familiar with prior to working on this campaign? What did you learn as you worked with them?
Yeah. While we were in the very early stages of the campaign, our agency was working with Courageous for the company’s unconscious-bias training. We reached out to them, and they were on board from our first conversation. So, it was pretty organic.
How was your approach to this work different from the way you’d approach a typical brief?
Usually in advertising you’re selling something that people want or need, and staying away from controversy is fairly simple. This campaign, on the other hand, had the component of speaking directly about police brutality, so it innately comes with controversy. We don’t want to demonize police officers, but it was important to get the word out and to do it in a provocative way. That said, we made sure to consult with officers every step of the way to make sure we were using the right language as well as depicting them in the right light.
What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced bringing this to life?
Obviously, as with most PSA campaigns, our budget was pretty slim. Lucky for us, our team, internally and externally, was all in. People had so much heart for the work, and we never felt like it was being seen as anything but the most important thing we were doing. But in addition to that, when dealing with the idea of race and police, we wanted to make sure it was authentic. From the casting to how people spoke to how people were dressed and even to how they walked in the film, we made sure it felt right. So much thinking went into everything we did. We didn’t want to sensationalize anything; we just wanted to tell the truth.
Where do you see this campaign going in the future?
The plan is for us to continue pushing forward and roll it out around the whole country. The end goal, down the road, is to save lives. The sooner we can do that, the better.