RISE. 365 campaign uses book covers to challenge racial bias

Rise Ad Campaign

Last month M&C Saatchi joined forces with London-based youth organisation RISE.365 and Clear Channel to launch a thought-provoking out-of-home campaign called ‘Changing Narratives’.

RISE.365 is dedicated to supporting young people in reaching their goals. The organisation provides a voice for the youth of today and works with them to become the future leaders of tomorrow.

The initiative began with the team at M&C Saatchi speaking with a group of seven teenage boys at Rise.365, who shared stories from their pasts in which racial stereotypes had been used against them. These included assumptions about criminal activity, aggressive dispositions and a lack of ambition, on top of harrowing experiences of being stopped and searched and arrested.

M&C Saatchi put key quotes from these conversations on book cover renders that have been meticulously designed to look and feel outdated – just like the attitudes held by those who made the assumptions.

“Bias can be challenging to tackle,” says Shaun Okoh, senior strategist at M&C Saatchi. “It’s human nature to sometimes create narratives in our minds about people we don’t know. However, for young black boys, the narrative created is often a negative one. This campaign needed to get people questioning the stories they make up and what better way to do that than with book covers.”

The posters also feature portrait photographs of the boys in question, whose amusing expressions reveal their thoughts on the stereotypes applied to them. Warm and comedic, these images stand in direct contrast to the quotes displayed alongside.

The quotes include unfounded statements such as ‘He’s got a guilty face’, ‘He’s probably a drug dealer’, and ‘He just looks like trouble’. Positioned as book titles, the quotes reveal both the weight that these misguided attitudes can carry, and just how antiquated the mindsets are that give rise to them.

“All too often, people categorise our young people through their inaccurate social assumptions, judgements, and unfair treatment, and we’ve been doing the groundwork through campaigns such as this to uproot the negative impact,” says Joyclen Buffong, founder and director of Rise.365.

“We hope that this campaign will have a huge impact, making people think twice about the way they treat particular groups of people, and helping us all to live in a fairer society.”

The initiative aims to educate the broader community and encourage people to reflect on their perspectives, to help us move towards a more inclusive and fair society.