Why This Ad Celebrating Black Music Was So Successful

January 15, 2021

Campaign Summary

O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul created a content series that used original, archival, and curated stories to celebrate four different musical eras from 1955-1990 on www.312Soul.com. The O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul agency promoted the content via its Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds using the #312soul hashtag. Earned local media coverage and social sharing also played a role in promoting the effort.


The Diversity and Inclusion Collective at the agency O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul wanted to create something tangible and lasting for Black History Month, not just "mark the occasion" as one would usually expect. The organization resolved to create a social- and mobile-forward campaign to celebrate the positive impact of Black culture in Chicago. Using the impetus provided by the city's Department of Cultural Affairs to designate 2020 as "The Year of Chicago Music," O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul decided to create an immersive digital experience that would shine a spotlight on the generally overlooked history of Black music in Chicago beyond jazz and blues.

O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul partnered with Slang Music Group, a Black-owned Chicago music production house whose Founder, Vince Lawrence, had deep ties to Chicago's music scene. This opened the door for the organization to interview, showcase, and create music with storied musicians.

Target Audience

The target audience was African-Americans, but O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul wanted all Chicagoans, plus the local music, artistic, media communities, to engage with this work. First and foremost, this was an employee-inspired experiential effort: a small yet tangible step forward in the organization's goal to build a work environment and culture that would celebrate race equity and inclusion in a demonstrable way.

Key Insights

The driving insight was the fact that everyone knows that Chicago is famous for jazz and blues, but curiously, the city's equally rich legacy in soul music has been overlooked and under-reported. Research uncovered a number of amazing musicians who created iconic melodies starting in the mid-'50s. Many of these musicians still lived in and called Chicago home. This gave O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul the foundation for the experience.

The agency interviewed, filmed, and recorded these musicians in locations in which they would be inspired to tell their stories, and even create original music for the campaign. Tom Washington — legendary songwriter, composer and arranger for iconic acts like the Chi-Lites, Earth Wind and Fire, The Jacksons, and more — not only agreed to be interviewed, but spontaneously offered to create an original piece of music for the project. This became the centerpiece that anchored the "From Horns to House" content collection and digital experience.

Interviews with other musicians followed and turned into musical history lessons, which begat playlists and samples and uncovered over 40 years of untold Chicago stories. Ultimately, O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul assembled an ensemble of over 50 working musicians, among them stars such as Gene Chandler, Willie Henderson, and Ruby Andrews. With access to their personal archives of photographs, writings, and memorabilia, O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul created a content series that featured four eras of music from 1955 to 1990 on a custom-designed microsite — www.312Soul.com — supported by social media snapshots and daily updates.


"#312Soul/Black History Month." 2020 ANA Multicultural Excellence Award Category Winner, Digital/Social/Mobile. Brand: O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul. Lead Agency: O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul.

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