Procter & Gamble’s “The Talk” won the primetime commercial Emmy on Saturday (9/8) during the first night of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards weekend at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
Created by BBDO New York and directed by Malik Vitthal of The Corner Shop, “The Talk” is part of P&G’s continuing My Black Is Beautiful initiative. The piece features different African-American parents having “The Talk” with their kids about racial bias and how it can make life more difficult--and at times even more dangerous. In one of this piece’s most poignant moments, a girl behind the wheel of a car insists she’s a good driver and her mom doesn’t need to tell her what to do if she gets pulled over. The girl has no intention of getting pulled over because she obeys the speed limit and the rules of the road. Mom doesn’t doubt that but she has to explain to her daughter, “This is not about you getting a ticket. This is about you not coming home.”
In his brief acceptance remarks, Greg Hahn, chief creative officer of BBDO NY, cited the bravery of P&G as essential in bringing “The Talk” to fruition.
BBDO NY’s core creative team on “The Talk” consisted of associate creative director/art director Bryan Barnes and ACD/copywriter Nedal Ahmed. (Ahmed has since joined Droga5 NY as sr. copywriter.)
A daunting challenge
Shortly after “The Talk” received its Emmy nomination, SHOOT connected with Barnes who reflected on the piece and its message. Barnes shared that he felt the weight of a daunting challenge when it came to “The Talk,” first noting that P&G has set the bar high trying to serve as a voice for good, referring to such notable past work as Always’ “#LikeAGirl” from Leo Burnett and the Olympics-related “Thank You, Mom” fare out of Wieden+Kennedy. Looking to again present a positive voice while addressing a major societal issue, Barnes acknowledged that he “lost a lot of sleep” as he and Ahmed sought to strike the right balance and tone for “The Talk.”
“One of America’s biggest problems is race and dealing with it. Our problem,” said Barnes, “was dealing with it in the right way and helping to promote a productive dialogue. I remember my copywriter colleague, Nedal who’s a woman of color, say that it felt like ‘walking a tightrope from beginning to end.’ We didn’t know if people would hate or love what we had to say. But we knew we had to make it feel real, authentic and we had to do it right.”
Helping to capture that authenticity was director Vitthal whose dramatic feature Imperial Dreams debuted at Sundance in 2014 and added to its following last year when it bowed on Netflix. The film centers on a 21-year-old reformed gangster’s devotion to his family. His future is put to the test when he is released from prison and returns to his old stomping grounds in the L.A. neighborhood of Watts. Barnes and Ahmed reached out to Vitthal after Imperial Dreams launched on Netflix. “We watched it. It was very well done. The casting and acting felt so real as he told this beautiful story,” related Barnes. “One of the biggest concerns we had (for “The Talk”) was we didn’t want it to feel like a gimmick, an ad. We wanted it to feel like a beautiful story. Malik is good at pulling performances out of talent. He helped attain that realism we needed.”
As for what he aspired to for “The Talk,” Barnes related, “We always wanted this to be more than an ad. The message transcends advertising and hopefully gets people to keep talking.”
Barnes observed that his biggest takeaway from the experience of making “The Talk” was simply, “We always need to keep talking about race and bias. It’s an important ongoing discussion. And it’s the only way the world is going to get better.”
“The Talk” topped this year’s field of Emmy-nominated commercials which also consisted of: another BBDO NY effort, the Monica Lewinsky anti-bullying PSA “In Real Life,” directed by Win Bates via BBDO Studios; P&G/Tide detergent’s “It’s a Tide Ad” directed by the Traktor collective, then of production house Rattling Stick (now represented worldwide by Stink) for Saatchi & Saatchi NY; Apple’s “Earth: Shot on iPhone” from TBWA\Media Arts Lab; and Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” directed by Wayne McClammy of Hungry Man for agency Lucky Generals.
BBDO NY has now won three primetime commercial Emmy Awards, dating back to the very first one bestowed by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences back in 1997 for HBO’s “Chimps” directed by Joe Pytka. BBDO NY won again in 2006 for FedEx’s “Stick” directed by Traktor. Over the years, BBDO NY has amassed 16 primetime commercial Emmy nominations. Additionally, the agency’s track record includes receiving TV Academy recognition for a longer form piece which addressed a major societal problem. In 2014, BBDO NY was in the running for an Exceptional Merit In Documentary Filmmaking Emmy for AT&T’s From One Second to the Next, a Werner Herzog-directed film exploring the dangers of texting while driving, emotionally recounting how lives have been forever changed by the issue.
Client Procter & Gamble My Black is Beautiful Agency BBDO New York David Lubars, chief creative officer, worldwide; Greg Hahn, chief creative officer, NY; Marcel Yunes, Rick Williams, creative directors; Nedal Ahmed, associate creative director/copywriter; Bryan Barnes, associate creative director/art director; David Rolfe, director of integrated production; Dan Blaney, executive producer; Whitney Collins, sr. producer; Melissa Chester, executive music producer. Production The Corner Shop Malik Vitthal, director; Anna Hashmi, exec producer; Lasse Frank, DP; Wynn Thomas, production designer; Isis Mussenden, costume designer; Jessica Miller, producer/head of production; Stephen Love, Blake Pickens, line producers. Editorial Work Editorial Rich Orrick, lead editor; Theo Mercado, editor; Jamie Lynn Perritt, producer; Erica Thompson, exec producer. VFX The Mill NY Jeff Robins, 2D lead; Sophie Mitchell, producer; Rachael Trillo, exec producer. Music Pulse Music NY Julia Piker, composer; Dan Kuby, composer/exec producer; Steve Grywalski, producer. Sound Design Trinite Studios Brian Emrich, sound designer. Audio Post Heard City Phil Loeb, Keith Reynaud, mixers; Sasha Awn, Andi Lewis, Jackie James, producers; Gloria Pitagorsky, managing director. Color Company 3 Clare Movshon, Alex Lubrano, producers; Sofie Borup, colorist. Multicultural Strategic Communications Egami Consulting Group