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M&C Saatchi partners with RISE.365 and Clear Channel UK to challenge racial stereotypes

M&C Saatchi has joined forces with London-based youth organisation RISE.365 and Clear Channel to launch a thought-provoking out-of-home campaign called Changing Narratives.

RISE.365 is dedicated to supporting young people in reaching their goals. The organisation provides a voice for the youth of today and works with them to become the future leaders of tomorrow.

Many young black men experience bias daily, with people jumping to conclusions based on damaging preconceived narratives about them. The new campaign seeks to challenge these everyday biases held in UK society.

M&C Saatchi has collaborated closely with the young men of RISE.365 to create the campaign, from insights and strategy, through to idea development. 

Shaun Okoh, a Senior Strategist at M&C Saatchi, conducted in-depth interviews with Femi, Daniel, Ryan, Lucas, Razaq, Solomon, and Sam about their experiences with bias. Each young man had memories of bad judgements (by others) leading to negative experiences (for them). Whether it was being told their mixed heritage (black and white) made them more tolerable, being randomly stopped and searched by the police for the first time as a scared 12-year-old or being aggressively arrested at 16 for a crime someone else committed, the campaign draws on a wealth of negative experiences.

The campaign depicts negative narratives as a series of book covers. Each cover features a young RISE.365 volunteer paired with a title based upon real judgement they have unfortunately experienced. These shocking titles were taken directly from conversations between the young men and M&C Saatchi.

The young men on the book covers are shown reacting to the negative book titles. These are genuine reactions from the young men’s perspectives.

The book covers themselves were designed and meticulously aged to feel outdated, like the biased views that are too often held.

The initiative aims to educate the broader community and encourage people to reflect on their perspectives, to help us move towards a more inclusive and fair society.

Joyclen Buffong, Founder and Director, RISE.365, said: “As an organisation that’s dedicated to changing the narrative, it’s been part of our mandate to continually challenge social bias. All too often, people categorise our young people through their inaccurate social assumptions, judgements, and unfair treatment, and we’ve been doing the groundwork through campaigns such as this to uproot the negative impact. 

“It has been a great experience working with M&C Saatchi, who took the time to work closely with our young men, creating a safe space for them to express their experiences and challenges and using that to inspire exceptional creativity. We’re also hugely grateful to Clear Channel for their ongoing support in highlighting our work at this level.

“We hope that this campaign will have a huge impact, making people think twice about the way they treat particular groups of people, and helping us all to live in a fairer society.”

Shaun Okoh, Senior Strategist, M&C Saatchi, added: “Bias can be challenging to tackle. It’s human nature to sometimes create narratives in our minds about people we don’t know. However, for young black boys, the narrative created is often a negative one. This campaign needed to get people questioning the stories they make up and what better way to do that than with book covers. 

“I think the work does a fantastic job of drawing attention to such an important issue, however, what I personally love most, is the boys’ fun facial expressions juxtaposing the negative stories people made up about them – showing that, despite racial bias knocking them down, young black guys always get up again.”

Media partner Clear Channel, one of the UK’s leading out-of-home media and infrastructure companies, will run the campaign on its 3,500+ digital out-of-home screens across the UK.

Jason Jarvis, Creative Agency Account Director, Clear Channel, commnted: “As a Platform for Good, Clear Channel is excited to collaborate with M&C Saatchi and RISE.365 on the Changing Narratives campaign. This bold and impactful initiative challenges bias, unconscious or otherwise, through compelling creative storytelling, urging everyone to rethink their preconceptions. We encourage our partners to contribute to this Powerful Poster movement, redefining the true meaning of changing the narrative.”