BLM protests 'erased' in voter registration push

Ad by Saatchis warns racial justice protests could all be for nothing.

Saatchi & Saatchi London has created a 60-second film for the not-for-profit, non-party political organisation Operation Black Vote that encourages people to register to vote to continue to make their voice heard after protests last year.

“All for nothing”, which was created by Emily Downing and Olivia Weston, opens on a still image of a person holding a Black Lives Matter sign, with the words then disappearing from the sign as a voiceover starts to remember last year's protests in the UK.

“60 cities across the nation woke up and got ready for action,” the voiceover says, before referencing the 35 arrests, celebrity endorsements and thousands of participants at the heart of the protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd after a police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds in the US in May 2020. 

The ad also references Diversity’s dance routine on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent, which received more than 24,000 complaints for its references to Floyd's death and the wider impact of coronavirus, poverty and capitalism.

The film ends by warning all the protests and petitions could be “for nothing” and urging viewers to register to vote. The deadline for registering to vote in May's elections is 11.59pm on Monday 19 April.

According to Operation Black Vote, BAME non-voter registration currently stands at 24%, compared with 6% in white communities.

“Voting absolutely makes a difference,” Lord Woolley, director of Operation Black Vote, said.

"Look no further than what occurred last November in the US – the voters voted for an end to racial division, and for racial equality for all communities."

Woolley noted that while millions of people protested for change to bring about “systemic change that will tear down barriers and unleash talent, particularly for young men and women and those from black, asian minority ethnic backgrounds”, voting is a “crucial way” to bring about this change.

They continued: “The most radical political act you can do, is to register to vote, use your voice, and vote.”

In the wake of Floyd’s death more than 200 UK ad industry leaders signed an open letter calling on the industry to address inequality and take action against racism.

Floyd’s murder also inspired a campaign by 56 Black Men and work from Nike, Adidas and Ben & Jerry’s.

Sarah Jenkins, managing director at Saatchi & Saatchi, said: “We cannot let last year’s progress stall, nor underestimate how small but consistent and collective actions, like voting, have the power to transform society.  

“The agency was already on its diversity journey but since the killing of George Floyd we’ve had eight months of accelerated education, engagement and brutally honest conversations as we looked at how we could be better anti-racists in a changing world.

“Our industry has the power to create change on a societal level. The revolution has many lanes. 

“The only wrong thing to do, is to do nothing.”  

Last June, Black Lives Matter highlighted the horrors of racial injustice with an ad, “Mama”, featuring footage of George Floyd shortly before his death.

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