YouTube's New Music Campaign Explores Identity And Diversity

21 July 2016, 14:47 | Updated: 17 July 2017, 12:18

We the Unicorns

By Imogen Ogden

It's time to be who we are.

YouTube's newest marketing campaign explores the importance of diversity and identity within music and its by far the company's most provocative ad campaign to date. Titled 'Its Who We Are' the five short videos feature users interacting on an emotional level with music whilst defying commonplace stereotypes. The message is clear; If Youtube don't explore these different types of diverse representations and shine a positive light on them, who will? The power music has on anyone is simply incredibly magical.


YouTube revealed that "there is no doubt that these will cause controversy" especially as the release of the campaigns are during the Democratic National Convention as well as spotlighting individuals and marginalized groups that have received negative feedback over the years. Yet this is the time for the internet to reflect on the importance these members have in the world, and how music is one way we can come together. Music isn't just what we listen to, its who we are and thats the celebration needing to be protested.

Pushing the symbolism of each character in the visuals, represents the artist content that foreshadows the issues amongst identity politics. Embedded alongside each of these are empowering messages that support and justify each of the videos to connect others to the story music helps provide.

In 'Tina's Theme' the words "Music isn’t just a convenience. It builds the world we want to inhabit. It connects us to what matters the most."  heartens her story of community-service and family support with Walshy Fire's "Matchet- Naturally"  to highlight the impact of music on emotion.

With YouTube exploring these different connotations stereotypes are given and juxtaposing them with a genre of music that wouldn't 'normally' be connected to them, is beautifully satisfying and a step forward to new found identities in todays society.

Another story follows the rawness of memories that music can help keep onto. "Music knows. It unlocks the feelings we need in the moments we need them. It’s a roadmap to what lies inside." is how the narrative is described in relation to the users emotional connection to the lyrics. This is the most ambitious clip, following 'Kristen's Theme' a woman who quietly cries on a plane to James Blake's 'I Need A Forest Fire' creating a refreshingly relatable piece of content.

The other three short campaigns consist of an American Asian boy named Jaysen who dances and head-bops his way off of a train listening too the Korean track "Eung Freestyle", giving him the confidence he needs to approach a group of frightening older boys.

There is Alex, who leaves his job at a drive-through to go home and dress up as a woman and dance around in happiness to Elliphant and Big Freedia's "Club Now Skunk" underlining freedom in expression.

And then there is Afsa's story. A muslim high school teen dressed in full hijab spitting lyrics to Blackalicious' "Alphabet Aerobics", whilst walking down the corridor leaving school. This emits a powerful delivery that music is a common language that helps navigate new cultures.

YouTube's Chief Marketing Officer, Daniella Tiedt, stated that " These are exactly the kind of lightening rod identity politics that are going crazy in the world right now. One of the reasons why we’re kind of leaning into that a little bit is because at YouTube we have such commitment to this idea that everyone should have the freedom to belong."

YouTube found that after some detailed segmentation, these where the types of users they wanted to target as music helps them find who they are and define that identification. The videos move away from 'traditional' marketing and focus more on content people actually want to watch which is both energising and comforting.

The fact that diversity is being celebrated and positive connotations are embracing such an empowering outcome, that identity representations are being explored and real life people from divergent backgrounds are having a chance to belong in a society, is breathtaking.

Major kudos to YouTube for growing awareness around identity and allowing the freedom to belong.

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