Clemenger BBDO Wellington
Voice of Racism

  • 2020

    Submission # 161

  • Output

    Digital Design – Toi Matihiko

  • Kaupapa

    Impact – Social Good

    Wildcard – Unique Projects

  • Location


Project Overview:
Racism in New Zealand tends, overall, to be less ‘extreme’ than in many parts of the world. But our systemic, unintentional and ‘small’ racism is not only prevalent, but leading to unequal mental health outcomes and reduced life expectancy. This type of racism is often minimised or even ignored. The NZ Human Rights Commission wanted to expose the spectrum of racism that exists in New Zealand, to allow people to see how they were contributing to harm. The campaign was designed to help those who don’t experience it to understand and ‘feel’ the impact of this incessant racism, particularly when lived alongside more overt and aggressive examples. Voice of Racism helped people to empathise, and then seamlessly provided people with ways to change. The experience is now being used as a learning tool in education, businesses, sport, media and government.

Voice of Racism sought to expose the reality of racism in New Zealand in a truthful, inarguable way. It aimed to let those who never experience racism to feel, as close to first hand as possible, the relentless, unfair and unnecessary burden it imposes. Many of those in our primary audience would describe themselves as not racist, and even more would argue racism was about intention. The aim of the work wasn’t to call these people out or publicly judge them, but to help them see how their own words or actions might be contributing to a bigger picture. Delivering the message in an intimate way where people had time to consider and process was key, as was providing people with the tools they needed to act differently in future.

Most of us are more than willing to say we’re anti-racist. But how can we actively and successfully fight racism if we don’t know what it can sound like? allows anyone to feel the burden of relentless racism. Thousands of lived microaggressions were gathered from real people in New Zealand, and each re-voiced by Taika Waititi to provide anonymity. These were then coded along several data points and served by an algorithm, based on intensity. This gives each user that enters Voice Of Racism an unpredictable, endless experience, to replicate the reality of racism. Each unique user journey ends with a customised learning tool, teaching you how to fight the specific racism you heard and encouraging you to challenge others to do the same. ‘Voice of Racism’ has had a reach of over 21 million so far, and is now used as a learning tool in government, education, business, sports and media.

Archiver’s Response:

"This project is a great example of using design to create a voice capable of having uncomfortable conversations. So often we see people afraid to speak up, but through design they've created a voice of truth rather than allowing any prejudices based on preexisting stereotypes to cloud and control the messages."

"What stuck with me the most is the familiarity of the racist messages because I've heard some before. What this project did really well is bring to light how racism can still exist in the background of everyday, and that just because you know you think you're not being directly racist, doesn't mean you're not entirely.
The visuals of the WEBGL face are cleverly anonymous and incredibly confronting. My one wish was that there were other voices from different demographics also performing the quotes. Because racism can come any Kiwi with any background.
A great snapshot of our progression towards stamping out racism. How far we have come, how far is still left to go. Understandably, unlike the real world the website had the option to turn it off. Something to aspire to."

"Love that the structure of the campaign includes tools that provide a space for reflection right away and can be used on the long term for a lasting impact.

Design is based on empathy. This means that any blind spots to micro-macro racism that its practitioners can have fragilise our industry and our impact. Along with other issues like climate change, we should challenge each other on it."

"Brilliant piece of work. So powerful!"

"yes yes yes!"

Credits & Collaborators:
Blank - Assembly
Creative Director - Brigid Alkema, Emily Beautrais
Talent - Taika Waititi
Design Director - Matt Von Trott

VOR Platform Board
VOR interactive button red pink mouth
Archive Submission
VOR red grey open mouth

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