Category Archives: gender

Pride: Gavin Grimm | My Trans Hero

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Pride has fully kicked off here in London, and with that I have created this illustration as an ode to one of the most inspiring and tenacious young men to have taken on the US judicial system. Gavin Grimm is a 19-year-old from Virginia, who came out as transgender to his fellow classmates at 15. The school he attended had allowed him to use the male bathrooms, however revoked this right after an uproar of complaints from “disgusted” parents.
What should have been a private and intimate discussion for a child, turned into a worldwide spectacle. As a child, Gavin had to stand in front of his peers, teachers and the court to fight for his right to use a bathroom. A CHILD. Gavin sued his district for violating the Title IX (US Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination “on the basis of sex” in education) and was immediately thrust into the spotlight as the face of bathroom rights for trans* people. Two years later in 2016, a 2-1 decision marked the first time a federal court had ruled that Title IX protects transgender individuals and their right to use the bathroom that aligns with their identity.

The battle continued as a district court initially ruled against Gavin, but was ordered to review its ruling after the Obama administration issued a guidance advising public schools to let trans* students to use whichever bathrooms they like. The case entered the Supreme Court but was quickly suspended as the Trump administration withdrew the previous guidance on bathroom use, therefore sending the case back to the lower courts.
Fast forward to May 2018 where the case has been revived and could end up making lasting changes to transgender rights in America. The school requested to dismiss Gavin’s case, but a Virginia court has rejected this request as US district judge Arenda Wright Allen’s refused to throw out his case, even suggesting that Gavin might win:

As Mr. Grimm contends, attempting to draw lines based on physiological and anatomical characteristics proves unmanageable: how would the Board’s policy apply to individuals who have had genital surgery, individuals whose genitals were injured in an accident, or those with intersex traits who have genital characteristics that are neither typically male nor female?

Gavin graduated from high school in 2017, but has continued to fight this battle, leaving behind a legacy of transgender activism. From the moment I heard his story, his determination and perseverance stunned me. Children should not be forced to grow up so quickly, nor should they be forced to justify their existence to a court, and to the rest of the world. Gavin is a true American hero and has pathed the way for transgender rights.

Gavin is what makes me proud to be a part of Pride.

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Project Embrace | #AFROVISIBILITY

Ad agency (and previous place of employment for yours truly when I had just started out) Quiet Storm were commissioned by branding agency Vine Creatives to create a series of posters for Project Embrace.

The campaign aims to shine the light on every day women of colour who are proud of their natural hair. #Afrovisibility is a reaction to the fact that Afro hair is rarely seen in any advertising, let alone on giant city-centre billboards, but these will feature in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Southampton, Newcastle and Glasgow.

The outdoor campaign by Quiet Storm features beautifully shot, powerful imagery featuring black women, all cast through an open audition, which includes a teacher, a finance manager, a writer, a receptionist, a student and an HR partner. The tag line “Proud to be me” boldly overlays these real women who are celebrating their natural hair.
In the last few years I have taken an interest in educating myself about the pressures placed on black women to change their hair to more European styles, and this is very evident in film, TV, music and advertising. With more and more more women of colour bravely sharing their stories of traction alopecia (hair loss from sewn in weaves and braids) and their stories of hating their own hair, it is a wonderful for black women of all ages and backgrounds to see that they shouldn’t feel pressurised to spend money on expensive weaves or straighten their hair, and should embrace the ‘fro!

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CALM: Project 84

CALM (The Campaign Against Living Miserably) is a charity dedicated to preventing male suicide, and a charity that has a big place in my heart. I am a ig supporter of the charity and always enjoy seeing what campaigns they produce to lift the lid on a subject that is unnecessarily, and dangerously taboo. Male suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK, and ad agency adam&eveDBB collaborated with CALM to raise awareness of this statistic.

Project 84 is a stunt campaign that placed 84 mannequins on the ledges of London’s ITV Southbank buildings to represent 84 real men who committed suicide. The number originates from the statistic that every two hours, a man takes his own life, making about 84 deaths per week. Sculptor Mark Jenkins, created this work of art alongside friends and families of those who have committed suicide:

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This campaign is about both raising awareness and showing that there is no shame in men talking about their mental health. I love this kind of work, and I think it has been executed perfectly. More importantly, it’s had a hell of a lot of people talking about this male epidemic, with users on social media tweeting images of the sculpture and the hashtag #Project84.

This is what design and advertising is all about.

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Spotlight: Henry James Garrett | Drawings of Dogs

Brighton based illustrator Henry James Garrett aka Drawings of Dogs first created his wonderful illustrated stories after dropping out of his PhD studies due to anxiety. He started drawing and creating stories as a means of soothing his anxiety, which eventually lead to selling greeting cards. This is his story, wonderfully illustrated, of course:

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I first found out about Henry’s illustrations from Pride London who have collaborated with him for this year’s Pride festival. Prior to this he currently has a series of weekly cartoons for The i Newspaper, which features other animals, called Adventures in Anthropomorphism. The comic above is a narrative told by Billie, Henry’s real life dog, which first appeared in CALMzine, a magazine for mental health charity CALM. This makes me love Henry even more because I am a huge supporter of CALM.

So he’s created illustrations for Pride and CALM. He’s living my dream.

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Pride tweeted “Homophobia can duck off! Around 1,500 animal species practice same-sex coupling. Only one species practices homophobia.”

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“Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non-binary people are non-binary. Always assume that a person is an expert in themself.”

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Above are some of the illustrations he has created for Pride, but he also covers other topics like racism, feminism, kindness, politics, and of course his usual funny animal jokes:

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I love his style – the simple, line drawn illustrations is reminiscent of my own preferred illustration style. I have always been drawn (pun intended) towards art that conveys a strong message and make us question how we treat each other. Comics that make us giggle are great too – let’s not under-appreciate his copy skills.

I honestly will be here forever if I post all my favourites, so make sure you check out his Instagram.

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Fortnum & Mason: Adam & Steve | Valentine’s Day

In the last 5 years, as each February goes by I notice a gradual increase in the amount of same-sex Valentine’s Day cards being sold (in the UK). Last year Sainsbury’s sold its first range of Valentine’s Day cards aimed at same-sex couples, along with a very small range of independent and “quirky” gift shops selling same-sex Valentine’s gifts and cards.

I have always seen Fortnum & Mason as a store that is very much behind the times based on the fact that they continue to produce and sell foie gras, despite its barbaric and archaic production methods. Fortnum & Mason holds a royal warrant as a supplier of goods to the royal family, and has never showed any interest in changing their traditional custom despite criticism (and protests) for years. However, the brand has listened to its public in a different area of concern regarding the representation of gay and lesbian relationships, by creating a set of Valentine’s Day biscuits for gay, lesbian and straight couples:

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The Garden of Eden-style biscuits feature “Adam and Steve”, “Eve and Niamh” (pronounced “Neve”) and the traditional Biblical version, “Adam and Eve”. The “Adam and Steve” tin sold out almost immediately, and at £15 a tin with each biscuit delicately hand-iced I can certainly see why!

Fortnum’s has always been for everyone, with excellent taste, and we are delighted with the response to this collection. We can’t think of better biscuits to enjoy with a cup of tea this Valentine’s Day.

This product launch could be in reference to the common phrase many Bible bashers use: “It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” – something I was once told by a classmate at art college, can you believe!!! The phrase has often been used by religious, homophobic politicians in parliament when arguing against equal marriage. It’s nice that Fortnum & Mason have created a product to celebrate love and turn that awful phrase on its head into something positive.

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Tinder: Invention of Together

Production company Buck have worked with Tinder to create this adorable animation for the dating app. It’s a far cry from what I would expect from Tinder, but the “history of man and woman” concept works really well. It seems Tinder are trying to move away from being seen as a hookup app, and more about finding someone with a connection:

In this epic history of man and womankind’s eternal struggle to couple… and do other things, the good folks at Tinder let us get our art on to create a luscious world where people have wonderbutts… and the same face.

Will this animation help the apps reputation? I’m not so sure… but from a creative perspective it’s a fantastic narrative with strong connotations towards the evolution of man and woman both physically and emotionally. ‘Invention of Together’ shows how thousands of years ago choosing who you wanted to date or love wasn’t an option – the narrative explores forced marriages, religious and moral differences – but now with the freedom to date who we want, Tinder aims to make this even easier to build new connections. We see a nod to the struggles of having homophobic parents and the celebration of the legalisation of interracial marriage.

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I recommend looking at Buck’s development section on their website to see the process of the wonderful character design. Buck used physical sets with computer generated characters, which required a month of shooting and eight weeks of postproduction. They really committed to the idea of evolution of man and woman by making each of the characters from the same body: “One of the concepts that we had was that all of mankind is from the same place and I guess to make the characters feel like they were all one family. So if you watch, the caveman [bodies] are the same as the modern-day characters’ [bodies]”:

The film will be rolled out online globally, following its debut in South Korea in December 2017. You can also see some awesome BTS shoots here.

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OkCupid: DTF

Ad agency Wieden + Kennedy (New York) were commissioned by dating service OkCupid to create a new campaign. Online dating has created a whole new set of vocabulary for millenials, like “ghosting” (ignoring someone), “nudes” (sending unsolicited naked photos), “catfish” (creating fake profiles) and “DTF” (“down to f*ck”). Using these common problems that online daters experience, the concept focuses on trying to rid the stigma of “hookup sites” and the dehumanisation of modern dating.

OkCupid’s CMO Melissa Hobley said:

In the current political and social climate, we felt a responsibility and saw an opportunity to play a part in changing the conversation about dating culture and empowering each individual to reclaim the meaning of DTF and make it theirs.

With this as the aim of the campaign, W+K used the phrase “DTF” and turned it into “down to <insert activity or interest here>”, such as “DTFight over the president”, “DTFinish my novel” and “DTFoot the bill”:

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OkCupid’s change in approach towards online dating aims to achieve substance and depth through the app’s new features, as it recently rolled out OkCupid Discovery, which lets users search by passions and interests. Interestingly, one of these is adding a “Trump filter”, which directly correlates with this campaign’s brand voice, particularly with the political references in some of the ads (above).

The photography for the campaign was shot by artists Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari, the creators of Toilet Paper magazine. Cattelan and Ferrari have a unique and recognisable aesthetic, always creating work that is brightly coloured and resembles old-school fashion advertisements. I absolutely love what they have created.
The playful nature of the art direction focuses on the fun and romantic sides of dating, rather than the historically misogynistic and disposable aspects that “DTF” dating apps (like Tinder and Grindr) have adopted. Each colourful ad is illustrated with an image against a flat, bright-hued background, making every image seem like a work of art.

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The ads will initially be rolled out in New York subways, and will eventually be displayed all over the USA. This is actually OkCupid’s first ever ad campaign which includes bus wraps, coffee sleeves, OOH posters and digital posts. The tagline “dating deserves better” is part of OkCupid’s efforts to market the service as one that can help you find a relationship, not just a hookup.

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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline | Logic: 1-800-273-8255

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This creative mashup is a wonderful example of when music, film, advertising and a PSA come together to create a piece for such an important issue – suicide. The song was created in partnership with the federal government initiative and was named “1-800-273-8255” as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number. The song was written and produced by American rapper Logic, alongside producers 6ix, and features guest vocals from singer-songwriters Alessia Cara and Khalid. The song was performed in August last year at the MTV Video Music Awards and received a well deserved nomination for Song of the Year at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. At the VMAs, Logic shared the stage with suicide attempt survivors and consequently the line received 5,041 calls following the emotional performance.

The song and video takes us through a narrative of a young man’s life feeling suicidal, considering suicide and eventually coming out on top as an older adult. The context itself explores a lot of issues that people of all ages, races and backgrounds have to face. I think it’s a very clever choice that the directors chose when casting the actors for the video, as suicide amongst young men is an epidemic of the 21st century. Additionally, there is a cultural representation explored as the main character comes from a family that racially, typically has traditions and values not associated with talking about emotions, sexuality and depression in men.
Although the video narrates serious themes, including racism, politics and Logic’s own biracial identity, ultimately, the song delivers a message of hope. I think this should be shown to young people in schools across the globe. It is incredible that someone in the music industry (who is nowhere near as popular as his other VMA performer counterparts) put so much time, effort and heart into a project. The results speak for themselves: on the day of the release, the lifeline received over 4,573 calls, and a 27% increase from the usual volume. Also, the NSPL website saw a monthly boost of 100,000 visits, from an average of 300,000 up to 400,000, in the two months after the song’s release. Google searches for the phone number doubled immediately after April, and they remain consistently 25% above the previous average today.

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Procter & Gamble: The Talk

Get the tissues out! This short film by BBDO (New York) was created for My Black is Beautiful, a group of visionary black women at P&G (created in 2006) to spark a broader dialogue about black beauty. The megaconglomerate owning almost every brand (apart from those owned by Unilever) showcases unique, and real stories with the aim of encouraging viewers to start a conversation on social media with the hashtag #TalkAboutBias.

“The Talk” narrates 6 stories of different generations of black families and the talk parents have to have with their children about discrimination. This is an ad for all countries, but the specific reference to police violence in the US is a very clear statement from P&G, and one that needs to be talked about. Although P&G have stated this is not a political statement, but a reflection of real life, some self righteous white people are claiming that it supports “cop-hate” – of course, making it about them rather than the issue at hand – racial bias.
Well, Dove, this is how it’s done! If a brand or an agency wants to talk about racism and discrimination, this is exactly how it should be communicated. The campaign doesn’t end there – a series of conversations about various aspects of racial bias continues on P&G’s “The Talk” website.

Damon Jones, P&G’s Director of Global Company Communications said:

Great advertising opens hearts and changes minds, but doesn’t have to stop there. We believe great advertising can inspire real, lasting change. That’s the aspiration behind ‘The Talk’. These real-life conversations about conscious and unconscious bias are too common in homes across the country and weigh heavily on parents and children of many different backgrounds. We take seriously the opportunity to spark dialogue on what we all can do to put an end to the harmful effects of bias, and motivate true change.

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Chris Hughes for Mental Health Awareness: Top man | CALM

Yesterday, Love Island’s Chris Hughes released a bizarre video campaign for a collaboration with Topman called “L’eau de Chris”. The video posted on Instagram received a lot of criticism, labelling Chris a joke and a narcissist for selling the drink for £2. The post saw the 24-year-old star posing in his underwear with “Mineral water infused with a Chris Hughes tears”.

 

As an avid Love Island viewer (no shame here) I assumed that the ad was a parody and a p*ss-take – Chris is known for his dead-pan humour and providing many giggles to millions of viewers this summer. To my surprise the campaign was in fact real, but not for a self-absorbed product to build his brand. Chris has teamed up with mental health charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) to raise awareness about male mental health and the male suicide epidemic.

CALM launched the #Don’tBottleItUp campaign to urge men not to internalise their emotions after it was found in a poll for YouGov that 84% of UK men say they bottle up their emotions. Chris collaborated with world famous photographer RANKIN for this project.

L’eau de Chris? What’s really ludicrous is that suicide is still the single biggest killer of young men in the UK. We live in a culture that encourages men to “man up” and bottle things up. That’s why I’ve become an Ambassador for CALM and why together with TOPMAN we want to show men across the UK that it’s okay to open up instead of bottling it up.

Hughes is now proudly an ambassador for CALM, and broke down in tears at an event yesterday whilst explaining his own struggles with mental health. Whilst on Love Island, Chris was praised for being very open with his feelings, something which men and boys struggle with immensely. Whoever chose Chris as ambassador certainly hit the nail on the head when it comes to targeting young people, as his name is everywhere in the world of gossip and celebrity since stealing our hearts on ITV2.
The limited edition promotional run of L’Eau de Chris water bottles (yes they are real) created for Chris’s campaign launch will now be auctioned here, with all proceeds going to support the charity. Also, Topman will donate £2 from every pack of Topman boxers sold from 10th – 31st October to CALM, in support of the #DontBottleItUp campaign.

 

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