Before You Shoot, Pledge To Stop Anti-Black Ad Casting

Adland’s dirty little secret exposed in Alex Bennett-Grant’s Cannes Lions Live talk. 

Alex Bennett-Grant CEO of We Are Pi took to the virtual stage at Cannes Lions Live to launch an industry-wide pledge to stop anti-black advertising casting.

Provocatively named ‘Before You Shoot’, the pledge was inspired by a recent industry-wide We Are Pi survey that received five hundred international respondents from people at agencies, brands and production companies.

The research results show that many want to take action against bad practices. 

  • 94% of those surveyed believe the ad industry needs to take action on racist decision-making in the casting process.
  • 52% surveyed were shut down or ignored when they tried to take action on what they believed was racist decision-making.
  • 70% feel they do not have a safe space at work to share and discuss topics of racism and discrimination. 

The research also revealed tangible examples of anti-black behaviour across the industry;

  • Typecasting stereotypical ‘black roles.’ 
  • Requesting black people be removed from casting briefs to avoid the embarrassment of not selecting them later.
  • Retouching brown skin to be lighter.

As a first step forward, Bennett-Grant invites the industry to join a pledge to stop anti-black ad casting.

  • Stand up or be complicit in anti-black casting decisions 
  • Demand more black decision makers in our teams
  • Demand a safe forum for discussing and resolving issues 

Brands have been called out for talking fast in support of BLM, while acting slow on system change to stop anti-black practices. We can't stand back and expect the advertising industry to change because we wish it. It’s time for action. My first step is inviting the industry to pledge a stop to anti-black casting practices.

Alex Bennett Grant, CEO, We Are Pi

You can watch the full ’Before You Shoot’ talk on Cannes Lions Live Website and download the ‘Race In Advertising Casting’ research report at 

Before You Shoot pledge comes a month after We Are Pi launched its new research report, New Society Rules, which serves as a marketeers guide to 21st century culture. The report covers themes such as "Waking Up To the New Mainstream" which tackles topics of minority community roles in mass culture.

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About WE ARE Pi

We Are Pi is an award winning Creative Innovation Consultancy that partners with clients to build brands worthy of thriving in changing times by initiating transformation programs. We Are Pi Client partners include Amazon, Nike, IDFA, Heineken, Intersport, Pepsico and Patagonia. We Are Pi was named Small Agency of the Year 2018, 2019 and 2020 by Creative Pool and Ad Age.

We Are Pi cultural research platform, New Society Rules, helps brands navigate cultural change. We Are Pi content arm, Pi Studios, produces ground breaking stories about cultural change. We Are Pi is proud sponsor of Black Strat, Plus Plus One and Creative Jam Session.