An old proverb states that “it takes a village to raise a child”. It focuses on the importance of community in the growth and development of children and young people. It’s the proverb that Sadiq Khan quoted earlier this month on launching his London Needs You Alive anti-knife crime campaign.
And it’s a proverb whose sentiment rings true when we look back over this year, not just within the advertising and communications industries but across much of popular culture. From the Women’s March that went global in January, to the recent election of Doug Jones over Roy Moore in Alabama and the success of Labour’s infultration into the world of grime during the general election. Communities or at least the strength of collective thinking, have proven that when united, people can make all the difference.
Music, in all it’s forms, has power to bring people together. Through music, we can tell a complex and emotional story in a very short space of time to a very specific audience. Over the last two decades, grime and spoken word have grown from the underground world of pirate radio stations to a popular and important way for young people to express themselves. These are young people making music for their peers and speaking directly to their contemporaries.
In recent years, spoken word has been co-opted in many an advert from McDonald’s to Nationwide and Virgin Media. While historically, spoken word has been an activist’s tool of resistance, brands, charities and educational bodies have commodified the art to reach a younger, more discerning audience.
By aligning themselves with the voices of their audiences, brands are able to become more actively involved in real societal issues, ones that directly affect their customers, and take on a more discernible role within their community. Because it takes a village to raise children, solve problems and ultimately, make a real change.