Provocative BLM Spec Spots from Sean Fahey
July 9, 2020 by Dan Patton
Director Sean Fahey was recently struck by a noble inspiration: "What if major brands addressed the crisis of systemic racism with the same intensity that they are devoting to the fight against coronavirus?"
The thought occurred to him during a uniquely impactful moment in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, which had taken place in his hometown.
“I saw Minneapolis on fire, raging with pain and heartache,” he recalled. “It was clear that this movement and the harsh realities of systemic racism that plague our country don't exist in a bubble, and the movement turned into demonstrations in cities all over the country and around the world.”
Swapping the visuals of Budweiser and Facebook’s COVID We Are In This Together commercials with scenes of people demanding equality, he created “a blissful fictional universe and social experiment.”
“I edited them to fit the narrative that Black Lives Matter and systemic racism is a national health crisis that these corporations actively support,” he said. “I wanted to show how these two brands might support peaceful protests in ways that make sense to me.” Take a look at Fahey's Budweiser spec spot:
At the time, Fahey had been following a state-ordered, homebound routine of working on films, educating his daughters, and watching a lot of commercials about uniting to withstand the pandemic.
“Scores of brands have been producing COVID-related commercials to show their support for all of us sitting in our homes concerned about what happens next,” he recalled. “Some of them were very good, but others followed the script until they were ubiquitous somber piano melodies that set the tone of our mutual isolation.”
But after the murder of George Floyd, that all changed. While taking his daughters to donate supplies at Pimento, a Jamaican corner store that had turned into a distribution center for serving people in Minneapolis’ hardest hit communities, he decided to do something more.
“Seeing all the boarded up buildings tagged with messages of solidarity for the cause and anger for the fact that this has happened in our country over and over again, I thought to myself, ‘what if brands responded to systemic racism the way they did COVID-19?’"
The effort is not intended to criticize or diminish current efforts to increase equality or honor the memory of George Floyd.
“Creating any kind of tribute to George Floyd, like naming a street after him, is a necessary gesture,” he said. “But major brands are in a unique position to truly effect systemic change, which is at the heart of this issue.”
Assisting Fahey on this work was Andrew Edwards, a Chicago composer now living in Los Angeles, who arranged the score for the Uber Black Lives Matter spec commercial, featuring voice over artist Erin Mansfield. Antar Jackson, a writer/musician and owner of a private financial practice in Chicago, is the featured voice talent for the Apple Black Lives Matter spec commercial. View all four spec spots from Fahey and his team here.