Is hair bias something you often hear about? For many, the answer is no.

But away from the media, millions are being plagued by discrimination on this very issue.

From a UK employer encouraging a staff member to disguise her “unprofessional” afro and a U.S. federal court ruling it legal to ban dreadlocks in the workplace, to schoolgirls allegedly being forced to straighten their hair in South Africa, this is a racial problem that stretches far and wide.

In an attempt to give it the attention it deserves, Ogilvy, Wavemaker and World Afro Day joined forces for a new awareness campaign.

Working to change the narrative around Afro hair, celebrating its natural beauty and inherent power, here’s why we chose Change the Facts, Not the Fro as our September campaign of the month.

Image credits: Ogilvy

The Insight

One in five black women feel social pressure to straighten their hair for work.

This was just one of the key insights uncovered by the 2016 Good Hair study, investigating the stigma and cultural bias experienced by women with Afro hair.

The statistics also reveal 78% of people instinctively prefer smooth hair, highlighting a serious need for change in the way female beauty and power is represented in the media.

Putting this research into action, Ogilvy UK used it to shape an impactful campaign, calling for change.

The Message

Hair is often seen as a representation of who we are, and for many, it’s a symbol of identify and culture.

Despite this, straight hair is often wrongly seen as synonymous with beauty and success.

This campaign challenges those misconceptions, urging people to think about how this portrayal affects people from every walk of life. The overarching message is a clear one:

Change the facts. Not the fro.

Launching in time for World Afro Day 2018, a global event celebrating Afro hair, culture and identity and offering education to create equality, it emphasizes the need for the Afro to be recognized in its natural glory.

As World Afro Day Founder Michelle De Leon says: “There is a huge gap in the market for a global celebration of African descent. Our culture, style, music and fashion have been trendsetting for centuries and now it is ‘time’ for our hair to take centre stage too.”

Image credits: Ogilvy

Why it Worked

Every so often, leading agencies and advocates for change come together to do something truly impactful.

This work shows the true value of what can come from using deep research to guide creative talent.

Focusing on a real world issue that’s been largely untouched by the media, the teams could reveal the truth behind the global problem, with insight that proved it.

Spreading its presence across DOOH, social, PR and online, with dedicated hashtags #WorldAfroDay and #Changethefacts, the teams gave people a reason to join the movement.

Aptly portraying the emotion at the heart of the campaign, this is data-driven storytelling at its best.

As De Leon says, “The story of Afro hair is the same in every language, culture and country. Hair that has been hidden and hurt is now out and proud. Over a billion African people, have been waiting for their ‘time’ and when we throw a party, the world wants to come!”

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