P&G Continues to do the Work in Its Allyship Journey to the Black Community

The latest campaign film Unbecoming digs deep into consumers' lived experiences

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In Procter and Gamble’s latest film for My Black is Beautiful hair care brand, Unbecoming, we see Black women and girls slowly and gently undo their hair. The campaign tackles the acceptance of Black women and natural hair.

The stunning film joins a series of acclaimed P&G films hitting on the stereotypes and the racism the Black community faces, which includes “The Talk,” “The Look” and “The Choice.” It’s clear that P&G continues to do the work on its journey to be an ally to the Black community.

Marketers, it’s time to take notes. P&G reminds us once again that we can represent and serve the Black community authentically, without shortcuts, quick fixes or checking the boxes.

Here are three lessons to remember as we race to build products and campaigns.

Diversify your portfolio of production partners

Too often, I have heard “I’m all for diverse talent as long as they are good,” “It’s a pipeline issue” or “The talent is just not there.” P&G shows us that when serving the Black community on an issue as deeply personal as hair care and beauty, you can hire an all-Black creative and all-Black production team. No more excuses. The talent is out there waiting to work with you.

Make hiring an all-Black creative and all-Black production team a priority from the start. Don’t keep that priority a secret; share it with the broader team. Build a diverse slate of agencies to consider, just like you would create a diverse slate of candidates when hiring for a role. Start with resources like Agency Spotter, Agency Vista and WP Engine; they share an expansive list of Black-owned agencies that have expertise in digital, creative, production and more.

Make it an ongoing priority to meet with new agencies even when you don’t have a particular project in mind. Because when there’s a campaign you do need help on in the future, you can with intention invite the right partners into your ecosystem.

Dig deep into consumers’ lived experiences

“When we got this brief, we realized we had never seen undone Black hair and unfiltered Black womanhood celebrated on screen together,” says Cartwright creative partners Chelsea Ceasor and Taylor Whitelow, who led the creative work for the P&G film. The film goes on to tackle all the things “they” (society) tell Black women they need to become: patient enough, desirable enough, manageable enough. And that Black women are taught and told that beautiful is something “we become.”

The film redefines what the word “unbecoming” means for Black women; that by unraveling themselves, and their hair, they are free to define beauty as who they are. It ends with: “What’s unbecoming of a Black women? It’s becoming who you are.”

As marketers, let’s not forget it’s that powerful insight we uncover that helps us understand how we can surprise and delight our consumers. In order to find that insight, we need to truly understand the lived experience of our consumers.

The P&G film reminds us we have a responsibility to help shatter stereotypes of what Black women face every single day. This includes facing white beauty standards that do not represent and reflect who they are, as well as the pressure they face to conform to what society deems is beautiful. We as marketers have the power to help reimagine and redefine what beautiful means in the beauty industry.

Deliver products that serve the community

“While Black women love the versatility, pride and strength derived from their hair, there is inherent tension there,” shares Lela Coffey, P&G Beauty’s vp for North America hair care. “Through Unbecoming and our My Black is Beautiful products, we are re-affirming our prioritization of hair health for Black women, with formulas that embrace the inherent beauty of their hair texture.”

P&G’s journey to be an ally to the Black community doesn’t just include representation of Black women in this film; it also includes representation with products that work for Black women. The My Black is Beautiful collection celebrates Black beauty and culture, created by Black women for Black women. All products are designed to nourish type 4 natural hair, for healthy coils and curls, from styling, scalp care and moisture for natural hair, with specially formulated ingredients like coconut milk, turmeric, ginger, honey and coconut oil.

As marketers, let’s continue to educate ourselves on the deep inequities Black women have faced in the beauty industry. According to a recent McKinsey Report, Black consumers are three times more likely to be dissatisfied with their choices for hair care, skincare and makeup vs. non-Black consumers. And addressing these racial inequities in beauty is a $2.6 billion opportunity.

We must go beyond just simply casting Black talent in campaigns and sharing their stories; we must also provide products and services that meet their beauty needs. P&G’s film Unbecoming serves as a best-in-class example and a reminder of how we as marketers can represent and serve the Black community; not with shortcuts or by checking the boxes, but with authenticity.