afaqs! news bureau

P&G says 'circumstances' discriminate more than virus in new ad

It shines a light on how the Black community will see more deaths due to the Coronavirus, and how they're worse off because of their circumstances.

The word 'race' has many definitions.

For some, it's a sporting event whose pinnacle is witnessed at the Olympic games. Few see it as a rite of passage, or a rat race, to make it big in the corporate world. There're those for whom 'race' carries communal connotations, which they pride on. And then we have those people for whom this word means hate, discrimination, and even death.

Procter & Gamble's (P&G) talks about this very discrimination in a new sombre ad called 'Circumstances'. The ad is a montage of Black people in various life stages, and the copy says that the virus doesn't discriminate, but circumstances do.

A message towards the end of the minute-long ad film says, "African Americans are up to 340 per cent more likely to lose their lives to the Coronavirus."

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, said in its report, "Nearly twenty-two per cent of US counties are disproportionately Black, and they accounted for 52 per cent of COVID-19 diagnoses and 58 per cent of COVID-19 deaths nationally." It also said that social conditions, structural racism, and other factors elevate the risk for COVID-19 diagnoses and deaths in Black communities.

The ad was released on May 26, 2020, at a time when the United States is seeing mass protests after the death of a Black American George Lloyd. In a widely-circulated video, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was seen pressing his knee against Lloyd's neck while he repeatedly pleaded that he couldn't breathe.

The nationwide protests are once again indicative of a tipping point which the Black community constantly experience; it's like the ad copy said, "A virus doesn't discriminate. But circumstances do."

P&G, over the years, has created a name for itself when it comes to releasing ads, like this one, that are relevant to present-day issues and events, without the usual hard-sell of brands. Just look at the FMCG major's ad for the Olympics, 'Thank You, Mom'.

Wieden+Kennedy Portland (the agency behind the campaign) said that for the 2010 Winter Olympics, P&G wanted to unite its 34 brands under one voice and create a connection that linked its brand purpose—touching lives, improving life—to the Olympics. The campaign continuted for susequent Olympics. Its was P&G's biggest and most successful campaign.

With 'Circumstances', P&G wants to make everyone aware of the disadvantages race can bring to people. In this case, Black Americans.