As the topic of race continues to make headlines in South Africa, MTV South Africa got social media buzzing around the globe on Human Right’s Day (21 March) with its #LetsTalkColour campaign.
The TV and social media campaign achieved an estimated 22.7 Million impressions on Twitter as the channel and all its affiliated social media accounts made the symbolic gesture of turning black and white for 24 hours.
Among the high profile figures and organisations who voiced their support to the campaign were Trevor Noah, The Nelson Mandela Foundation, Gareth Cliff, AKA, Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Sport and Recreation, Julius Malema, CNN, Unathi Msengana, Poppy Ntshongwana and Khloe Kardashian.Designed to stimulate dialogue about the still contentious issues of race and racism in South Africa, #LetsTalkColour saw all MTV programming, promos and interstitial programming broadcast in black and white, while the channel’s social media feeds also switched to “greyscale”. On-screen graphics giving background on the meaning and origins of “Human Rights Day”, also aired on the channel, alongside song lyrics from contemporary songs that touch on the subject of race, such as Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White”. Advertising was suspended from the channel to give space to editorial about Human Rights Day and International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
MTV screens turned black and white at 00:01 CAT on Monday 21 March 2016 and returned to colour at 23:59 CAT. The channel also engaged its viewers and followers in conversation on social media all day long on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram.
Commented Dillon Khan, Head of MTV, South Africa, “MTV viewers are used to seeing a riot of colour on our channels and platforms. 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. The issue of race is not just an historical one, and we wanted to help our youth audience understand the significance of Human Rights Day, and what it means to young people today.”