Ad Agency Creatives Are Using FaceApp #ItsGettingOld To Reimagine Black Lives Taken Too Soon

Written by Lauren DeLisa Coleman
Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and Trayvon Martin’s untimely deaths caused massive outrage in the U.S. related to gun violence and police brutality. Image: Twitter #ItsGettingOld

FaceApp is the latest social media tool taking Instagram by storm. 

Popular for it’s neural face-transformation filters that, among other things, demonstrate future aging of individuals, FaceApp is as much a draw as it is an issue. It’s even under FBI investigation as a possible national security threat. Creatives from one company are attempting to use the app to drive social good.

Creatives from McCann Worldgroup, a leading marketing services company, are using FaceApp to encourage social discussion. Dubbed the #ItsGettingOld campaign, they used the images of African-American victims of violence to re-imagine their features if they were still alive and had been permitted to age naturally.  The first three individuals selected are the late Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Sandra Bland, whose untimely deaths caused massive outrage in the U.S. around gun violence and police brutality.

The story broke in advertising trade media outlets last week and is beginning to catch hold. Creative executives from McCann have chosen to drive this campaign with the hope that the events around such deaths will not be normalized. They hope to inspire people to vote and create change in our society today.

Though the creatives that worked on this project all work for the same agency, this was a personal project published independently, Moguldom has learned.

What is intriguing here is that they applied an approach that might normally be used toward a brand ford social good. This echoes a conversation during the recent Cannes Lions Festival revolving around the trend of “brand citizenship” or brands and companies needing to take a stand for what they believe in and not solely focus on profit, particularly during such a volatile and tense time in the world.  

While positive in nature, the campaign seems to be taking a bit of time to actually get onto the radar of those who could make the most noise about it. On average, posts have only about 40 likes on Instagram and nearly no comments. The Twitter mentions about the campaign are positive with one user noting that the images are a creative use of social media to drive good, but the posts have nearly no retweets or likes.

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This void speaks, perhaps, to a larger and persistent issue in the advertising industry. Lack of diversity both within agencies and true connection with various multicultural demographics outside the agency are still hurdles to be overcome. The creative attempt here is an altruistic one, yet there seems to have been no outreach to key influencers and ambassadors-of-sorts with social currency to get the conversation started. Black Twitter, for example, seems to have not been seeded at all.

In order to evoke true change and move the needle at all, particularly around racial and social justice, inclusion at all levels is imperative to make the efforts truly resonate.

As we look toward the 2020 presidential election, the messages that really engage are those that use emerging tech in an organic manner and also close the circle on perspective and strategy that makes the work worthwhile. Cultural intelligence always makes all the difference in initiating and driving trends.