At midnight on March 21, television screens in South Africa turned black and white. Commercials ceased for 24 hours. Even social media channels changed to grayscale. MTV had one simple message for the world: we can’t ignore racism any longer.
#LetsTalkColour is MTV’s latest effort to promote diversity and encourage its viewers to speak out against intolerance. MTV chose the annual Human Rights Day in South Africa for this powerful and symbolic gesture.
Race-related content aired in lieu of advertising. Viewers got a chance to learn about the origin of Human Rights Day, and read relevant extracts of song lyrics that speak to the issue of race and discrimination from Michael Jackson’s Black or White to Pharrell Williams Freedom.
Trevor Noah, Khloe Kardashian, The Nelson Mandela Foundation, and CNN are just some of the high profile celebrities and organizations who tweeted their support for #LetsTalkColour. By the end of the day, the campaign went viral.
Social Media talks color:
Twitter: More than 200,000 impression
s in one day, and more than 2,000 mentions
Facebook: More than 307,000 impressions, and more than 28,000 video views
Website: More than 2,000 visits, 93 percent of which were new.
“MTV viewers are used to seeing a riot of colour on our channels and platforms,” said Dillon Khan, director of MTV in South Africa. “By stripping out the colour, we are making a strong visual statement, using our media, digital and social media platforms. We’re making the channel black and white as a dramatic statement to raise awareness of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and local Human Rights Day, and to encourage progressive public debate about this issue.”