Black Plaques, SAUVAGE, the Halo Code

Authors: Kate Savin, Jack Maycock, Zoe Dawson
  • Reading time: 5 min.
  • Posted on: December 15, 2020

Read on for a handpicked selection of the good, the bad and the one to get involved with in the world of social impact communications. This week, we’re highlighting Black Plaques, SAUVAGE, and the Halo Code. 

| NAILED IT: The Black Plaque Project 

Last week, creative agency Havas London launched a bold campaign for The Black Plaque Project, the initiative to end the posthumous discrimination of Black British history shapers. 

Less than 2% of London’s famous blue plaques, dedicated to notable past figures, celebrate British people of African and Caribbean heritage. But since its launch in November, four specially designed plaques dedicated to Black Britons have been installed around the capital. The project hopes to rectify the way British history books have been white washed to overlook many notable Black heroes. There are 32 plaques to be installed in total over the next year.

The campaign really makes some noise about the stories behind the project, with striking outdoor and poster executions, gorgeously written long copy print ads, social media activations and a podcast series. Each ad introduces one of the 32 individuals featured on the plaques, with engaging copywriting that just gives you enough of the story to want to read more, which you can do by simply scanning a QR code. 
The campaign is a great example of strong – and long overdue – storytelling for a bold and exciting project that will play a huge part in educating Londoners on the merits of its Black residents. Check out the project here.

| ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT: Dior promotes an abuser

Dior seems to have found its niche – deeply problematic advertising – with their ongoing SAUVAGE perfume campaign. Fronted by Johnny Depp since 2015, it came under intense criticism last year for its racist stereotypes and cultural appropriation of Native American culture, all for a perfume name which translates to ‘savage’ in English. 

Now, the company has decided to actively promote adverts starring Johnny Depp during prime time TV slots including Bake Off, a month after a court ruled that he assaulted his ex-wife, Amber Heard. Nia, a sexual and domestic violence charity, has asked shoppers to boycott Dior until Depp is dropped from the campaign. In the meantime, internet searches for Sauvage have increased by a quarter since Depp’s court defeat. 

It feels like Dior is attempting to profit off Johnny Depp’s publicity, regardless of the cause of it. No company should benefit from violence against women, however indirectly. 

| ONE TO WATCH: Adopt the Halo Code to end hair discrimination

Credit: the Halo Code

Last week saw the launch of the Halo Code – a new accreditation for schools and workplaces, pledging to end hair discrimiation. The Halo Code explicitly protects students and employees who come to school or work with natural hair and protective hairstyles associated with their racial, ethnic, and cultural identities.

Despite being illegal under the 2010 UK Equalities Act, hair discrimination is still prevelant today, with children and adults both facing negative repercussions for wearing their hair naturally. To put an end to this, young black activists founded the Halo Collective – an alliance of organisations and individuals working to create a future without hair discrimination. 

Our strategy lead, Ayesha, is a Halo collective partner. She says: 

“I can’t believe we are only now seeing a Black hair code in the UK. Hair discrimination is everywhere, and is an attack on our racial, ethnic, and cultural identities. The Halo code is a welcome move that employers and schools must adopt, allowing Black people the freedom and security to wear all Afro-hairstyles without restriction or judgment. 

I am delighted and inspired by the 30 young Black activists that I got to work with on this. They took action into their own hands after the law has failed our community for so long.”

We are delighted to join major UK employers, such as Unilever, in adopting the Halo Code in our workplace.