For Veterans Day today, TBWAChiatDay New York partnered with Lucasfilm to create a social campaign highlighting the contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen—the US Military’s first Black pilots, who flew nearly 1,500 combat missions during World War II.
As part of the campaign, the agency created an entirely new visual identity for Tuskegee Airmen Inc., an organization dedicated to popularizing and preserving the legacy of the pilots. The visual identity includes a new logo, custom typeface, and new “Tuskegee Red,” a shade symbolic of the iconic red tails on the unit’s aircraft.
As outlined in the documentary Double Victory, which Lucasfilm is now allowing viewers free access to on its site, the Tuskegee Airmen weren’t just fighting against the forces of fascism in Germany and Japan. The pilots were also fighting against racism in their home country, where segregation and discrimination remained the law of the land.
Using the hashtag #FlyLikeThem, TBWAChiatDay New York’s social media campaign includes short educational anecdotes on the extraordinary group of Americans, including quotes and highlighting facts about the all-Black unit of fighter pilots. Through the partnership with Lucasfilm, the social content also points folks to more extensive resources on the Tuskegee Airmen and Lucasfilm websites.
In addition to the Double Victory documentary, Lucasfilm has also made Red Tails available for free on its site. The 2012 film starring Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. dramatizes the compelling story of the Tuskegee Airmen. There are also downloadable educational guides for students grades 6-12 on the unit’s contributions.
“The Tuskegee Airmen were the original disruptors,” said TBWA North America chief diversity officer Doug Melville in a statement. Noting that the unit has begun to see more national recognition in recent years, he added, “It’s important for all Americans to know they paved the way. Before Jackie Robison, MLK and Rosa Parks—the Airmen used a system meant to suppress them to rise above and diffuse it, through their performance and excellence.”
Melville, who’s also the nephew of Tuskegee Airmen commander and leader General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., continued by highlighting the profound segregation within the military during World War II.
“Everyone, from the nurses, cooks, mechanics and pilots were Black,” he said. “Their bases overseas weren’t even on our military maps and yet they performed at a higher level. It’s an inspirational story that we can all relate to and find grace in.”