Martin Luther King Jr Day – Join the Conversation

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed on the third Monday of January each year in the United States, around the time of King’s birthday, January 15. In 2003 Rudy Gaskins worked with his newly formed production company, Push Creative, to develop a series of 30 second ads honouring the public holiday and the following Black History Month, a campaign commissioned by TNN to help launch the new brand, Spike TV. The spots, which were guided only by conversational topics, deal with issues like inter-racial relationships, stereotypes and perceptions from both black and white perspectives.

Mixed Couple

“TNN described their audience to us, which was predominantly male, aged 18-39, and generally irreverent,” says Push producer/principal Rudy Gaskins. “Our challenge was to talk to this audience without hitting them over the head with grand ideas.”

Instead, Gaskins said they tried to meet the audience where they were by discussing race issues at they affected the audience’s lives today. “We wanted to avoid using figures from the past and coming off like a history lesson.”

The first, for MLK Day, prompts people to “join the conversation” about race issues.

Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube

The N Word

Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube

To accentuate the message, the spots have heavy visual components that Gaskins calls folkloric, an American flag painted on wood and what looks like layers of fabric, and were created by graphics firm Carbon Design and post house Blink.fx (now defunct), both New York.

The Martin Luther King Jr Day campaign won eight industry awards in 2004.

Filed under: Commercials

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