Cephas Williams, founder of the Black British Network, has launched an inspirational campaign, which features on Out of Home (OOH) digital screens throughout November and December, publicising his moving Letter to his son Zion written in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. The move is currently supported by 12 UK industry leaders including Phil Thomas, Keith Weed, Stephen Woodford, Jude Kelly, Barry Cupples and Paul Polman.
The campaign, in support Williams’ crowdfunder initiative to support the Black British Network, aims to promote change and a dialogue not restricted to October’s Black History Month. The OOH campaign uses creative including the introductory line “I want to see a world where…” and includes subsequent copy such as “people respect each other’s differences,” “..black history is not just celebrated in a single month”, and “..where black people are treated fairly.” All taken from Williams’ letter as seen on www.LetterToZion.com.
The OOH industry is supporting the initiative in a campaign worth over £1 million, with the project led, planned and coordinated by Talon. The distinctive black and white creative copy-led messaging, which includes the iconic end-frame image of Cephas holding his son, Zion, has been developed and created by Grand Visual. It will run in November and December and into 2021, across sites donated by blowUP media, Clear Channel Outdoor, JCDecaux, Ocean Outdoor, Open Media, Maxx Media and Smart Outdoor.
Photographs Casey Gutteridge, CPG Photography.
The Letter to Zion, written as a vehicle to bring about continuous dialog and tangible change regarding the black community and wider landscape, followed the birth of Zion around the time of George Floyd’s killing in the US. Cephas spent months writing this and released it on October 9, his birthday.
As Cephas Williams explains, “Unfortunately, it took the killing of George Floyd to bring about this awakening and now with companies and leaders going back into the cooler, my concern is that we have not yet successfully created something that exists independent of corporate frameworks that can be used as a tool to help bring about the change we need to see.
“This stance, supported by a variety of industry leaders and now the Out of Home industry in bringing my message to the wider community and beyond a single reference point, such a s Black History Month, will reinforce the message of the Black British Network, that ‘Together We Are Stronger’.
“The hope is to create a ‘unified knock’ that goes beyond lip service and tokenistic gestures and starts to look at primary behavioural and systemic change, to support a mission that prioritises a more reflective approach and response to the black conversation than a reactive and opportunistic one.”
Barry Cupples, Group CEO of Talon, whose team planned and coordinated the OOH activity, adds: “This is an unbelievably important cause that we’re very proud to be involved with alongside some amazing Out of Home media owner partners. Bringing the message to a wider audience, highlighting its importance and showcasing some extremely powerful ad content, will really stand out in this period ahead and drive the desired effect of delivering impact, action and change.”
Commitments to the Letter to Zion and the further ambitions of the BBN so far includes the support of the OOH industry through media space, plus companies like Alfa Systems, O2, Ernst & Young and Clear Channel committing to the BBN Round Table Conversations and other key deliverables proposed by the Black British Network to bring about long lasting change in this area.
Clear Channel, who initially worked with Williams to amplify the ground breaking 56 Black Men ‘I am not my stereotype’ campaign in 2019 and the ‘Let’s Not Forget’ campaign in 2020, connected Talon to Cephas as part of an ongoing ambition to further unite the OOH industry in support of Williams’ message and vision for change.
This is the start of an ongoing and powerful relationship that will be committed to supporting the BBN in driving the change we need to see in this country and the wider world.
The full list of ad industry leaders endorsing the campaign project include: Andrew Denton, CEO Alfa Systems; Paul Polman, Imagine Co-founder & Chair, Simon Pegg, Stolen Picture Co-founder, Phil Thomas, Ascential President, Marketing Division and Chairman, Cannes Lions, Barry Cupples, Talon CEO, Rob Love, Crowdfunder CEO/ Co-founder, Justin Cochrane, Clear Channel CEO, Europe, Richard Bon, Clear Channel Managing Director UK, Danny Brooke-Taylor Lucky Generals Co-founder, Stephen Woodford, CEO Advertising Association, Daren Rubins Conker Co-founder, Keith Weed WPP Non-Executive Director, Jude Kelly CBE, The Wow Foundation Founder & Director,
Mark Evans,CEO O2 Telefonica UK, Hywel Ball, Ernst & Young UK Chair & Managing Partner, Steve Varley Ernst & Young, Global Vice Chair Sustainability, Mervyn Lyn, Strategic Partnership Solutions Ltd Founding Partner and John McGrath, Manchester International Festival, Artistic Director & CEO.
About Black British Network
In light of recent killings of black people there has been a groundswell of awareness and momentum focused on the experience of the black community globally and how we bring about positive change.
A poignant moment that caused for the whole world to look inwardly and reflect on all of our feelings towards the black community, the reality of black communities perceived position in society, the frustration informed by overt racist acts and the lack of economic advancement through the years due to systemic racism and prejudice that exists both within the workplace and the wider landscape.
There is hope that for one moment, people will no longer be afraid to listen to the black community, accept the realities of the inequalities experienced and work with us to usher in long lasting change. On top of this, there needs to be a united effort to focus time and resources on ensuring we strengthen, support and uplift the black community who have had to suffer in silence for so long; to make sure that 5 – 10 years from now, or even 30, we are not having this same conversation again.
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About Cephas Williams
Cephas Williams is the founder of the Black British Network and a public speaker. In 2018 Cephas Williams launched the ‘56 Black Men’ campaign to challenge the negative stereotypes of black men in the media and spotlight positive achievements of black men in his community. He has been successful in galvanising huge support for his work from the likes of Accenture, EY and Clear Channel and individuals such as Paul Polman (former CEO of Unilever), actor Simon Pegg and many others.
Cephas’s aim now is to broadcast a new message and create a new conversation through his new venture The Black British Network.
In his recent public letter to his son titled Letter to Zion, Cephas explores a heartfelt message on the changes he wants to see in the world in which his son will grow up.
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Talon Outdoor is an independent Out of Home media specialist and a significant player in the Out of Home agency sector with a focus on delivering smarter, creative, technology-led and integrated OOH communications. Combining independence with a collaborative approach, Talon promotes open working between agencies, clients and media partners.
Talon has achieved the Campaign Best Places Number 1 Medium sized UK Company to Work For and has also featured in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100, as No.1 in Best Companies and in LSE’s 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain.
Talon handles the Out of Home media for several of the UK’s leading advertising brands through Omnicom Media Group UK agencies, along with other agencies including AMS Media Group, JAA, Havas Media Group, Goodstuff, Ptarmigan Media and Republic of Media.
Talon has offices in London, Manchester, Frankfurt, New York and San Diego, plus several other US cities, and has built an OOH planning and buying network covering US, Europe, Asia and Latin America covering 75 markets.