Industry insiders share views on P&G's 'The Look' vs 'The Talk'

The CPG giant continues to fight racial bias with its new film from Saturday Morning.

Last month, P&G - as part of its push against racial bias - launched "The Look," a film that shows what it’s like to be a black man and the micro-aggressions experience by black men on a daily basis. 

The film, created by Saturday Morning, followed on P&G’s "The Talk" from BBDO, which bravely tackled racial bias and was created on the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement to halt police violence against unarmed black citizens.

Both films tell powerful, important stories. We asked industry insiders to share how they think "The Look" stands up against the previous award-winning film and what P&G should do next. 

See their responses below. 

Krystle Watler, SVP and Head of Business Development at Virtue, an agency born from Vice

I commend P&G for taking the leadership to confront the many forms of bias that exist in the world, especially here in the U.S. And with a partner like Saturday Morning, I cannot wait to see the storytelling journey P&G will take us all on. As a citizen, consumer, and executive in the business, this type of work is never easy to produce or watch. It makes all of us – non people of color and people of color alike – uncomfortable, but this is the point. Unfortunately, our government isn't taking on this leadership role so why not private business? There's a line in Bryan Stevenson's incredible book, Just Mercy, where he's told: 'You can’t understand most of the important things from a distance, Bryan. You have to get close.' Let's continue to get close on what bias really is so we can all help shift the narrative and eliminate it – together.

And with Marc Pritchard announcing his Mexican American heritage with us all – I can only hope leading up to the 2020 election that P&G tackles the stereotypes that exists with immigration."

Matthew Bull, Founder of SoloUnion and Creative Advisor for Global Brands at AB-InBev

I’ve got a jaundiced view on "causal" work in that I feel too many brands piggy-back on issues without earning the right to do so – I feel brands and companies need to walk before they start doing the talking.  And I also think agencies use causes to borrow emotional equity for brands. However…

…I think any brand that’s willing to put its money behind something meaningful and important for the harmony of mankind (or the Earth) should be encouraged to do so wholeheartedly.  Especially if they do it bravely and fully. To me, this isn’t an ad, it’s a documentary on racism and what it’s liked to be judged for something you have zero control over. That’s all that’s important.  It’s a message paid for by P&G, not an ad for P&G. 

And that’s alright with me.

Nancy Hill, CEO and Founder of The Agency Sherpa

Both pieces of work demonstrate a deep understanding and empathy for what black men tell me they go through on a daily basis. While I can never feel it the way that they do, these films bring me about as close to that as possible. Both BBDO and Saturday Morning deserve credit for making sure that they were both raw and honest in bringing these daily occurrences to life.  With that, P&G gives the audience a sense that they not only SEE what's going on, but that they stand for helping to eliminate those biases in our culture. As to where they go from here, I don't believe that it is my place to say. I do offer my continued support for this messaging as it is extremely important and one that P&G has put a stake in the ground as part of their purpose. 

Brent Vartan, Managing Partner of Bullish

These films are incredibly moving - and needed. "The Talk" was painfully eye-opening and "The Look" flies in similar air. But I do wonder what else P&G is doing to make change? We haven't seen much more from them beyond these films; they could be doing much more with their scale. What brands say, matters a lot. What they do matters far more.

Ari Halper, FCB New York Chief Creative Officer

"The Look" is a strong step forward in the conversation, which P&G started about two years ago with "The Talk." Obviously, both films are trying to tackle an immensely delicate topic, that is unfortunately still an issue in 2019. So, before anything, let me just say that I have incredible respect for P&G, using their powerful voice to say something truly meaningful.

Now, from my perspective as a white male, what I loved about "The Look," is that it is more actionable than its predecessor, because it creates a much clearer role for me, as the viewer, holding a mirror up to society’s unconscious bias, and my own, so that one day we can all hopefully see beyond it (as the film impeccably states). Whereas "The Talk," drew awareness to an unfortunate conversation that exists behind closed doors, which many of us never see, addressing systemic issues, like police profiling and brutality, which seems beyond most of our control.

That said, I realize that these two films are merely steps in a much longer journey, but at least we are on our way. I just hope P&G keeps going, as well as other brands, politicians and individuals. And I know I’m a bit of a dreamer, as many of us are in this industry, but if we evolve from just talk, into action and engagement, and actually start living it, will we finally attain the equality we so desperately seek. 

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