Saatchi’s Search For Sites to Film PSAs No ‘Dream’

When the Saatchi & Saatchi creative team working on a PSA campaign to support a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial went on the hunt for filming locations, nearly 20 restaurants and fitness centers in New York and Los Angeles turned them down.

Valentino, a Santa Monica, Calif., restaurant, and an employee gym at the Los Angeles Water Authority agreed to let the team film at their sites. A Saatchi rep declined to name which businesses turned the team away. “What surprised me is that people were afraid to let us shoot,” said copywriter Larissa Kirschner.

Kirschner and art director Carlos Figueiredo said the businesses likely feared being associated with any potential controversy. In one 30-second spot that broke last week, actress Halle Berry enters a restaurant, where she is escorted to the back and through a curtain before sitting in an area with other African Americans. Above Berry’s table is a sign reading, “Colored section only.”

A second spot features Today’s Al Roker, who cannot work out at a gym because the signs there read, “For white guests only.” The tagline, “Imagine what America would be like today if Martin Luther King never had a dream,” spoken by actor Dennis Haysbert, closes each spot.

The Advertising Council and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, the campaign’s sponsors, hope to raise $100 million to place a memorial at the Mall in Washington. The effort also includes print, radio and online.