The home page of a just-launched Web site has one link for whites to follow and another for “coloreds”.
Clicking through to the “colored” section brings this notice: “ for your protection and for the sake of decency, please remain within your side of this web page. If you should happen to move into an area designated for persons of the white race, your safety cannot be guaranteed.”
The idea behind the experience, created by DDB Seattle, is to create an online approximation of what life was like for millions of blacks and whites in the segregation era.
The agency created it in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is January 16. This is the 15th consecutive year DDB Seattle has undertaken a public awareness initiative around the holiday, which executives feel doesn’t get the national attention it deserves.
Once they navigate through its chilling splash pages, visitors to RememberSegregation.org can access a number of interactive features. These include a bio on MLK, a photo gallery and a timeline on civil rights milestones of the past 50 years. Additionally, the site offers audio downloads of King’s “I have a dream” and “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speeches, plus several of his prominent writings.
The creatives behind the site said they wanted to create a sense of discomfort. “ This campaign is intended to make people stop, think and perhaps get a little uncomfortable in the process of realizing the modern day importance of Dr. King’s life,” said John Livengood, executive creative director at DDB Seattle, in a statement.
A newspaper ad promoting the site began running in Seattle-area weeklies on Wednesday, and one will appear in the major Washington dailies on Monday. Additionally, the agency sent a direct mail piece to government officials, high school administrators and C-level executives in Seattle. DDB Seattle pursued online advertising to support the site, but was told by potential media partners that they lacked the inventory to donate to the cause.
Much of the other media has been donated, though DDB Seattle spokesperson Dan Miller said many publications are sensitive to racial content.
“Some media are not as willing to donate space, but they’ll give us a nice break on it at least,” he said. “We’d love to see it donated more.”
In previous years, the agency has created print ads and outdoor executions, as well as a TV spot that was shot from the perspective of someone boarding a segregated bus in the 1940s. An old black and white camera was used to create it, and all the actors were dressed in period clothing.
The agency creates its annual MLK Jr. Day campaigns independently of any partner or client. For nine years it worked with the Seattle Times, but for the past six years it has done the work solo.
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