The Black Rep
Client: The Black Rep
Product: Season 42
Title: The Color of Our Character
Media: Out of Home
Country: United States
Date Of Campaign: August 1, 2018
Background: The Black Rep theatre is the largest professional African-American theatre company in the U.S. Through music, poetry and prose, each performer communicates the passion and pain of being black in America. But with an aging core audience and a declining subscriber base, we were tasked with promoting Season 42 to a younger, more progressive audience. In “Crowns,” a wayward teen is told about her American black heritage through spirituals and church hats; in “Four Women,” a quartet of marginalized female voices are expressed by the unapologetic oration of Nina Simone; in “Milk Like Sugar,” the lure of teen pregnancy represents the fight to fit in; and “Canfield Drive” confronts the details of an unarmed black student, Michael Brown, killed in the street in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, by a white police officer and the national protests that followed.
Idea: To appeal to a younger audience and revive the subscriber base, we conceived and created posters as colorful as the performances, the performers and the messages they proclaim. Using brightly colored designs fused with bold symbolism, we characterized the color and the courage of black culture and its rich history. We integrated reverent headlines, unflinching declarations that double as impactful design elements. And crafted illustrations that showcase, as a great man once said, “the content of our character.” For the posters themselves, we used Pantone metallic and neon inks to push each color as far as printing would physically let us. This technique gave every color an added layer of depth, making each one more vibrant, dynamic and louder, and added a visual weightiness to the heavy subjects addressed in each performance. The artwork we created for Season 42 was unmissable throughout St. Louis during the run of each play. And each original poster hung in the lobby of the Black Rep theatre. The artwork was incorporated into playbills, billboards, bus stops, ads in local newspapers and magazines and as social channel avatars.
Results: The two plays that have run so far during Season 42 — “Crowns” and “Canfield Drive” — have more than doubled the projected ticket sales. But the true impact of the plays isn’t measured in conversions, it's experienced in conversations. In interviews with the playwrights on public radio and in local newspapers. Through the unforgettable Q&A sessions with black and white audience members that occurred onstage after the curtain fell on performances of “Canfield Drive.” And the authentic, tolerant dialogue between blacks and whites in the theatre parking lot. These posters have helped garner an audience that is willing to have conversations that are helping, in a small but perceptible way, with the interracial healing that must occur in our city and across the U.S.