Being Black is not a crime. That the message needs amplifying in 2020 is a sad inditement of the inequality that continues to decimate communities and cost lives–but it’s a stark message San Francisco ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners has emblazoned across the windows of its office.
Prompted by the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the agency said the activation aims to combat racism and raise awareness of the fact that Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police. This is despite the fact white people are twice as likely to be carrying guns, according to the Courageous Conversation Global Foundation.
The work was created by associate creative directors Rony Castor and Anthony O’Neil, who have been honored in nitronet’s Creative 100 industry accolade this year as rising industry stars.
Anthony O’Neil and Rony Castor have been honored in nitronet’s Creative 100.
“What happened to George Floyd was horrifying. It was inhumane, and something most Americans can’t unsee,” Castor said, discussing the latest campaign. “But it’s something the Black community has experienced for far too long. It’s time for our white allies to act. To use their voices, and stand up against systemic racism in every way imaginable.”
“As Black men, we have a duty, responsibility and obligation to stand up against racism,” added O’Neil. “As an agency, we need to use our collective voices and stand with the Black community. It’s time to hold ourselves accountable. It’s time to stand with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, all victims of police brutality, and the entire Black community.”
O’Neill and Castor were also behind two powerful campaigns created in partnership with Courageous Conversation: “Not a Gun” and “Not a Crime.” The work highlights the unjust reasons why unarmed Black people have been killed by American police–including carrying a candy bar mistaken for a weapon.
The duo joined nitronet’s latest Yeah, That’s Probably an Ad podcast, co-hosted by David Griner and Ko Im, and revealed how they’re coping and forging ahead amid the renewed Black Lives Matter protests, as well as what needs to be done in the face of uncomfortable conversations about social injustice.
Their agency, Goodby Silverstein, recently created an online Twitter bot as part of a campaign called “Respond2Racism” aimed at addressing harassment online after hate against Asians and Asian Americas surged 900% on the platform since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bot auto replied to racist tweets mentioning the coronavirus with videos that educate the perpetrators and uplift Asian frontline workers.
It is not the first time the agency has used its office block as a giant campaign platform. In 2013, it turned the building into one giant celebration of Gay Pride, turning all its windows colors of the rainbow for a week.
“Looking at the racism and hate that threatens Black Americans every day, we just couldn’t stand by in silence,” said Goodby Silverstein co-chairman and co-founder Jeff Goodby.