Stories matter. For our stories to represent the world we live in, the storytellers must reflect the diversity of our communities. But while the US Census estimates that about 40 percent of the population is non-white, with 13.4 percent of Americans identifying as Black, people of color—particularly Black Americans—remain underrepresented in media. Comic books, an engine of our popular culture, are no exception to this unfortunate rule.
In solidarity with the Black and diverse voices that remain underrepresented in the fields that shape our culture, Ally teamed up with Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), DC and Milestone Media, the first Black-owned comic book company to form The Milestone Initiative: a groundbreaking program empowering the next generation of diverse comic artists and writers to create a world where everyone can see themselves as a hero.
Ally’s objectives for this partnership were:
The cornerstone of the partnership was The Milestone Summit where, after a 10-week training camp with industry legends, 24 diverse comic creators, selected from 1000+ applicants, gathered for a week-long capstone at DC’s headquarters. Throughout the program, they received financial education resources from Ally to plant the seeds for generational wealth.
But Ally and WBD wanted to share Milestone’s story, and everything it represented, with the world. To that end, they took a three-step approach to amplify the message.
First was the “Seeding Period” with social teasers preceded the unveiling of The Milestone Initiative at DC Fandome and an open call for applications across social, PR, and OOH.
Second was “The Big Splash” which leveraged emerging technology and unique cultural moments to drive large-scale awareness.
Third was the “Continuity Period” where multi-channel, co-branded content spotlighting Milestone Media and The Milestone Initiative artists maintained momentum for the campaign.
The Milestone Initiative integrated into culture in powerful and unexpected ways. The innovative nature of the partnership was its biggest strength, but also the biggest challenge. Many campaign components (e.g., Milestone ARchives) were the first of their kind. Ally and WBD leaned on each other’s expertise in areas that represented uncharted territory for one of the partners. Additionally, marketers often underestimate consumers’ ability to detect inauthentic voices, especially in the context of DE&I. The hallmark of Ally’s DE&I efforts is its focus on deeds not words. Ally knew that to show its true heart and win the trust of skeptical audiences, it needed to lead with action.
The Milestone Initiative elevated the careers of diverse talent in a tangible way. In the words of one Milestone Initiative participant, “Ally is literally being an ally right now as far as helping us get into the industry and getting that mentorship.”
The comprehensiveness of The Milestone Initiative drew widespread attention and interest, garnering over 1B impressions. This included 85.2M impressions for the immersive Snapchat experience, for which the average play time (13.7 sec) and share rate (0.68%) were 143% and 223% above the category benchmarks for the preceding six months.
Among people who engaged with the campaign on social media, Ally’s growth in brand KPIs (familiarity, favorability, purchase consideration, and recommendation) outpaced all competitors by double digits.
Beyond exposure and engagement, Ally was thrilled that all three campaign objectives were achieved.