P&G's 'Widen The Screen' Ad Aims To Diversify 'Black Life' Onscreen

by Madison Vanderberg
P&G (Procter & Gamble)/Youtube

New Procter & Gamble ad ‘Widen The Screen’ diversifies how Black people are portrayed in the media

Procter & Gamble, the makers behind almost everything at the drugstore, are committed to diversifying and expanding the scope of Black life shown in ads, media, and in TV and Film — starting with a new short film entitled “Widen The Screen,” which challenges the stereotypes that too many in media have relied on when centering Black stories.

“Black stories are too often portrayed as one extreme –– either struggle or triumph,” Procter and Gamble said in a statement. “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.”

P&G (Procter & Gamble)/Youtube

In their new short film, Mahershala Ali narrates three stories, one of a Black man in a car, another showing a group of Black teenagers in a convenience store, and lastly, a Black woman with her kids.

In lesser hands, and let’s be real, if these stories were told by non-Black creatives and filmmakers (as they often are), these stories would be peppered with stereotypes, unfolding in tragic, stale, and racially ignorant cliches we’ve seen too many times.

P&G (Procter & Gamble)/Youtube

“If you think you know what happens next, ask yourself why,” Ali says in voiceover. “These are the Black stories we’ve been shown. A narrow view that limits our understanding. But there’s so much more to see.”

P&G (Procter & Gamble)/Youtube

In Procter and Gamble’s short, helmed by Oscar-nominated director Kevin Wilson Jr., the Black man in the car is on his way to a little girl’s birthday party, the teens at the convenience store are waiting for their friend to get out of the bathroom, and the Black woman with several kids is waiting for her husband to pick them up in his minivan.

P&G (Procter & Gamble)/Youtube

Procter & Gamble is using this short to kickstart their commitment to increase and widen the portrayal of Black people in all aspects of media.

As P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard tells Forbes, “accurate portrayal of people in advertising, in media, in news, then helps eliminate bias because you learn stereotypes, objectification and denigration.”

P&G is teaming up with LeBron James’ production company, the Tribeca Film Festival, and Queen Latifa’s production company to diversify the voices in-front of and behind the camera both in film and in advertising. The company is also investing in already established Black-owned-operated media projects and companies and is supporting different grant programs that aim to bolster the pipeline for Black talent to enter media and advertising professions.

The response to the commercial and P&G’s commitment to inclusion has, so far, been met with positive reactions on social media.

“We’re looking to make systemic change, and systemic change to eliminate and address bias, address and eliminate racism and inequality particularly in the advertising, and creative and media community,” Pritchard says. “And we have been at this for a while, but this is really a significant expansion of work that we’ve been doing on systemic change…We like to call it a multiplier effect of equality.”

Procter & Gamble is certainly heading in the right direction. More of this please.