By Erin Clark, Planning Director
The newest Marvel Studios blockbuster is poised to break through one of a few “glass ceilings” in Hollywood, and as a multicultural agency, we can’t wait! When the Marvel character Black Panther first debuted in the 2016 movie Captain America: Civil War, the response was a resounding “YES!” and the buzz has been building ever since. According to Fandango, Black Panther has pre-sold more tickets than any other superhero movie at the same point in its life cycle. And the NY Times reported, the trailer teaser — not even the full trailer — racked up 89 million views in 24 hours. At Dieste, our enthusiasm for the movie stems from our ongoing pursuit of inclusivity and positive representation in the work that we do every day.
Listening to your audience pays off
What Black Panther confirms is that listening to your audience pays off, and Disney has certainly been listening. Just this past November, Disney released another hit, Coco, a musical fantasy film centered around Día de los Muertos. Some may recall that in 2013 Disney attempted to actually trademark the holiday, but quickly retracted its application due to the massive backlash from Latinos. At the time, it certainly appeared that Disney was completely tone deaf, but perhaps that was the lesson they needed to realize the importance of listening to their audience in order to create truly relevant and representative work. Coco has since been hailed as a culturally conscious masterpiece that has made many Latinos proud, and we have no doubt that Black Panther, also a Disney production, will have a similar impact on its target audience and beyond.
#WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe It means that Hollywood will have hard evidence of how much films with Black casts, Black directors, Black writers & Black dollars impact the box office. Our $ and our representation matter, and always have.
— Sho (@ShoStanback) February 6, 2018
Positive representation paves the way for a brighter future
We humans are multifaceted and at a time when tensions are high in our society, giving people of any race, color, religion or sexual orientation a chance to feel represented is more important than ever. And, whether we like it or not, Hollywood plays a key role in helping us break through societal divides. Jamil Smith recently wrote about its importance in Time, “Relating to characters on-screen is necessary not merely for us to feel seen and understood, but also for others who need to see and understand us. When it doesn’t happen, we are all the poorer for it.” Jamie Broadnax, the founder of Black Girl Nerds, a pop-culture site focused on sci-fi and comic-book fandoms points out the characters in Black Panther are rulers of a kingdom, inventors and creators of advanced technology. “We’re not dealing with black pain, and black suffering, and black poverty — the usual topics of acclaimed movies about the black experience.”
#WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe proves that Marvel’s @theblackpanther is more than just another comic book movie. It’s a touchstone and inspiration for so many who feel underrepresented in pop culture. https://t.co/jmTbUpjh8y
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) February 6, 2018
Hopefully, Black Panther will help change the way Hollywood addresses films with predominantly black female casts and filmmakers. And, perhaps those who stand to benefit the most are our kids. When kids see themselves represented in a positive way, it allows them to imagine their future in a more positive light. Let’s shed that light!
Dieste, Inc. (www.dieste.com) is a Dallas- and New York-based company with a mission to pioneer the future of how brands and cultures connect. Through our partnerships and the deployment of proprietary consumer data, algorithms and human cultural intel, combined with insightful creativity, we are able to sync brands with consumer subcultures and create successful outcomes for our clients. Dieste has won multiple Cannes Lions for their work and has been named Ad Age’s “A-list,” “Agency to Watch” and “Multicultural Agency of the Year” numerous times. Dieste is part of Omnicom’s (NYSE: OMC) DAS Global network.