The ad calls on the audience to break its narrow view of the community and get the full picture of Black life.
Procter & Gamble wants everyone to widen their view of the world in an ad that calls out the stereotypes surrounding Black people. The spot, titled Widen The Screen, starts the ad by portraying Black people as pop culture often does—as thugs, victims, thieves, or other similar stereotypes. The spot ends with showing surprisingly different and positive endings. Procter & Gamble wants to put an end to the stereotyping of Black people and show them as three-dimensional human beings that are the life of their communities.
"Black stories are too often portrayed as one extreme –– either struggle or triumph. While those stories exist, they do not represent the full Black experience. What about the inside jokes and hard conversations, the honest gestures, and creative acts of rebellion? To understand the Black experience, we must showcase the whole truth," reads a statement on their website.
The ads subvert the expectations using popular stereotypes. Two Black youngsters are shown entering a convenience store, and the owner keeps an eye on them and you're half expecting them to shoplift because that is how this scene has always been portrayed on scene. As you anticipate the chaos that follows the shoplifting, a friend of theirs emerges from another aisle at the convenience store, embraces them before paying the bill. In an alternate scene, a pregnant African-American woman walks her kids to the bus stop. This scene is all too familiar and appears to show a single mother with kids, running the house. The father is absent and that has been evident. As the pregnant woman stops by the side of the road, a car draws up to her. A man opens the car door and runs out to hug one of the children. For far too long, Black men have been shown as irresponsible adults and absent fathers and this ad subverted that stereotype. In the third parallel storyline, a man wearing a gold chain can be seen driving a car, while wearing a gold chain. He steps out with a bag and knocks on a door. We anticipate violence because we've been conditioned to. We're expecting him to be part of a gang, pull out a gun, or even rob the place. When the door opens, it's his mother. He breaks into a huge smile as the pair hug.
The ad was shot by Oscar-nominated director Kevin Wilson Jr. and is narrated by Academy Award-winning narrator Mahershala Ali, according to Muse by Clio. "If you think you know what happens next, ask yourself why," says Ali after the video, as our mind fills in the blank to fulfill the stereotype. "These are the Black stories we've been shown. A narrow view that limits our understanding. But there's so much more to see—the full picture of Black life," adds Ali, as visuals break the stereotype across all three storylines. All three stories have positive endings. which feels like a surprise to viewers who aren't used to associating them with Black people. "Let's widen the screen so we can widen our view," concludes Ali.
"For me, widening the screen is basically taking a look at life in the middle for Black people, a normalization of Black life to allow people to see themselves," said actor Njema Williams. Sound mixer Chykeria Thompson called for more representation to portray authentic stories. "We need more Black storytellers that come from an authentic place, and not just one person because we're not a monolithic people," said Thompson.
P&G has been producing ads that call for supporting Black communities, breaking stereotypes, and pushing for justice. "We want to spark a conversation that can motivate change and create new expectations for people, to help drive equality and inclusion for all. We recognize there are different challenges for different people, and we address those challenges unique to meet the need. We continue to learn and grow from the work we do to support LGBTQ+ visibility, gender equality, and racial and ethnic equality to drive lasting impact and change," said P&G chief communications officer Damon Jones. "The idea originated from the knowledge that 6 percent of writers, directors, and producers of U.S. films are Black," he added. The company has inked content deals with LeBron James and Maverick Carter's Spring Hill Entertainment, and also supports Queen Latifah's Queen Collective, which backs Black women writers and directors. This is just one of many ads from P&G that focuses on Black empowerment. Some of the other ads include The Talk, The Look, and The Choice to address systemic bias, racism, and inequality.