How P&G’s ‘The Talk,’ a Grand Prix Winner in Film, Brought a New Level of Empathy to Advertising

Director Malik Vitthal describes the goals and challenges

Video: John Tejada; Editor: Breana Mallamaci
Headshot of David Griner

CANNES, France—It is a short film that is incredibly specific—pointedly so—to this moment in America, but “The Talk” clearly has resonance far beyond one country.

The video, created as part of Procter & Gamble’s “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign to spark candid discussions of race in America, won a Grand Prix in Film at this year’s Cannes Lions, raising its emotional message of empathy onto an international pedestal.

“This honor reinforces the power and the responsibility of brands to be the courageous change we want and need in the world,” P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard said upon learning about the win. “We’re humbled that ‘The Talk’ sparked dialogue, opened hearts and changed minds.”

Many teams and individual were involved with the project—led by BBDO New York alongside Hearts & Science, Egami Consulting Group, Barefoot Proximity, Burrell Communications and more—but director Malk Vitthal brought a unifying and thoughtful vision to the finished product.

In the video above, Vitthal explains how he and the teams behind the project created “The Talk” in a way that encompasses many talks.

“Some of the threads that we really wanted to be mindful of, it felt like they should all be motivated by some version of love,” he says. “Whether they all had a different motivation, where one’s more cautious, one’s more mad, one’s more celebratory, one’s more questioning along with their child—it was important for us to hit all the different emotional beats along the way with the story.”

While the ad sparked some controversy around its references to racial profiling and police violence—”This isn’t about you getting a ticket. This is about you not coming home.”—Vitthal says the intent was to create a film that would open everyone’s minds to the kinds of talks that have become necessary in our society over the decades.

“We really wanted this to go far in terms of anybody being able to access this conversation,” he says. “It’s important for us to have a safe space. We didn’t want to push anyone away with this story.”

Below, you can watch the full video of “The Talk.”


@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."