The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

Juneteenth Thoughts

Winner in On a Shoestring

Gold Honor in Social Activism

Entered in Multicultural Community Engagement, Social Good Campaign


There was no client for this work other than our own agency, but the need was clear: the industry’s take on Black topics and Black representation was starved for more nuance. With a relatively small production budget of $40,000 a few folk from our Black affinity group, noir, along with invested allies, got together to provide a proactive response to America’s newest holiday–Juneteenth. 

The short film, “Juneteenth Thoughts,” showcases two friends grappling with their conflicting emotions about the day’s “celebration.” Is it progress? Is it hollow? The intentions weren’t to offer a definitive answer, but rather capture a more detailed portrayal of what Black people really feel and discuss (a reality that’s often more muddy and dimensional than typical portrayals). 

Among a range of perspectives shared, the most dominant was simple: don’t just have another day off, but reflect on why we have it.

Strategy and Execution

The original inspiration came from conversations about humor, and about the tendency in the ad industry to treat Black topics with a sort of one-note brand of seriousness. Lots of intense statements or earnest spotlights. But the fuller picture of living life while Black is that we joke about everything. And it’s often conversational humor

that helps us express or navigate our feelings on even the toughest topics. So with another serious Black topic coming up with Juneteenth, we wanted to find a way to drop into a more intimate slice of life from a Black perspective and explore the mixed feelings about America’s newest holiday. 

In terms of challenges, there’s a natural Black vs. white that’s unavoidable when you’re talking about a holiday like Juneteenth. Which we wanted to include for the honesty of it all, but also didn’t want “what white people need to hear” to take up all the space. The main thing was just trying to set a scene that felt real and relatable for the people who have these kinds of conversations all the time. Other versions leaned more toward a shopping Black-owned PSA–which we of course need more of– but that felt like too easy of a resolution to a problem that money can’t completely fix…

After the launch of the film, we continued the conversation on social by taking over our network’s handles and encouraging everyone to share their #JuneteenthThoughts. And from concept to publication, emphasis on representation extended beyond our internal team—but included working with a BIPOC editor, mixer, director of photography, director, and even shooting in a black-owned restaurant.


Almost immediately (and with no media budget) comments, thoughts, and dialogue flooded in, deepening the conversation—just as we had hoped. Within two days we had generated 40,000 unpaid, organic impressions, and another 1.2 million impressions from the Press.

While a huge part of this project’s impact lies in the conversation and reflection it inspired, this work also fulfilled a secondary agenda of becoming a reference point in our industry to (hopefully) help sell-in braver and more nuanced takes on Black and BIPOC topics. Just like authors need “similar to…” books to sell their ideas, creatives need in-industry examples to help validate their diverse (but sometimes slow-to-be-trusted) ideas. Like… “if they can make humor work with Juneteenth, then we could do this.” Tweets, texts and conversations have let us know the film did just that. And we’re excited for what it might help get sold in.

Within our own walls, Juneteenth Thoughts had a profound impact at an organizational level. After viewing the film the our Amsterdam office opened their own BIPOC employee resource group — Kinfolk.


Video for Juneteenth Thoughts

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Wieden+Kennedy New York, noir @ Wieden+Kennedy New York


Entry Credits