Making beautiful music – the strategy for AHRC’s ‘What you say matters’ anti-racism video

As Digital Strategists our role is often a bit like the role of a conductor in an orchestra. We ensure every instrument is finely tuned, the right musicians take part and everyone stays in time. Strategy work makes a real difference between a tune with the odd bum note, and the perfect harmonic melody.

Like a conductor too, although we’re highly active behind the scenes, it can be tough to appreciate all the work that takes place and to see how all the elements align at first glance.

But our project with Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), What you say matters, helps to illustrate just that.  The project’s output, a four minute hip hop video which empowers young people to address racism in their everyday lives, is really the embodiment of the campaign strategy and research come to life.

The background

We have been working with AHRC since early 2013 to develop useful and engaging online resources for young people to help support them to deal with racism in their day-to-day lives. The Commission’s National Anti-Racism strategy had identified a clear need for resources with a specific focus on young people, to build on AHRC’s successful Racism. It Stops with Me campaign launched back in August 2012.

AHRC wanted to not just to produce anti-racism resources, but to really understand the issue from the point of view of young people, what their core concerns and questions are, and what kind of resource young people would really choose to engage with.  Youth engagement was a genuine priority for the Commission – and Zuni were selected to work on the project because of our strong links to young people, particularly due to our work with the Young and Well Co-operative Research Centre.

Our approach

Zuni’s approach was rigorous – after reviewing a broad range of relevant research from around Australia, there were a huge number of questions that we needed to have answered. We started with the big one: just how big an issue is racism for young people in Australia today?

Supported by Facebook, the first step was an online research poll that gathered responses from 2,300 young Australians. The results shocked us – almost 90% of young people have experienced or witnessed racism.

We devised an in-depth survey to increase our understanding and help us move towards the right solution. This survey collected a huge amount of data from 475 respondents aged 14-17 – everything from their attitudes and understanding around racism, how young people choose to look for help or advice on issues like racism, what kind of resources they want to access to practical info like what websites and apps are in vogue and what devices they use.

Putting the strategy into action

As young people often are apt to do, their answers surprised us but gave us a clear way forward for the project. Young people were most likely to choose to engage with video content, and they wanted their biggest questions answered: why does racism exist and what they can do about it. Our work teased out the themes, key questions and tactics required and refined the huge base of contextual data into an easy-to-understand (and implement) strategy.

Zuni’s campaign strategy became the building blocks of the resource, with the scenes, script and messaging all created using the research data as source material. Young people’s voices have been involved in the creation of this resource from the beginning, and now their input is tangible in the final video.

What’s next?

What you say matters was launched today at an event in James Meehan High School, Macquarie Fields, the school that provided not only the location for the shoot but also the incredibly talented young people cast in the video.  We can’t wait to see the results as young people around Australia have the chance to engage with the video online.

We were incredibly lucky to work with Australian Human Rights Commission on this project – as a client, they were open-minded, flexible and absolutely dedicated to finding the right solution for young people. We were also lucky to have been able to draw on the expertise of local production houses, mediaRock and Think Tank who crafted the story which brings our work to life in such a compelling way.

Sometimes when the right strategy meets the right team, everyone can make beautiful music.


Read more about the story behind the video on mediaRock’s blog
Or email us about how our strategy can boost your next campaign

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