Procter & Gamble's Damon Jones stars in Nat Geo's 'Activate: The Global Citizen Movement'

The six-part documentary series debuted this month.

CINCINNATI: One of the top communications executives in the consumer packaged goods space appeared alongside rappers and activists in the second episode of the National Geographic Channel documentary series Activate: The Global Citizen Movement.

The episode, entitled "Ending Cash Bail" aired on September 12. It featured Procter & Gamble VP of global communications and advocacy Damon Jones and rappers Usher and Common. It examined issues within the criminal justice system and included personal stories about the push to end cash bail in New York State. 

In the episode, Jones explained that in news coverage, viewers are more likely to see a black man in a mug shot than in a picture with his family, creating an unconscious bias among everyone from judges to lawyers to police officers.

"Those decisions have real consequences that are sometimes even life-or-death decisions," said Jones, in the show. "So it's really important that we make sure the images that are in media, advertising or film or TV aren’t pigeonholing any different group, that we are really showing the full spectrum of what is out there."

The six-part series, which debuted this month, was co-produced by Global Citizen and RadicalMedia and connects to P&G’s citizenship priorities. The show highlights the work of grassroots activists ending cash bail, eradicating plastic pollution and other issues, and it features celebrities such as artist and producer Pharrell Williams and actors Darren Criss and Uzo Aduba.

Other goals are to raise awareness of efforts to eradicate extreme poverty and inequality, as well as to mobilize consumers to take action and drive meaningful change.

"Our fundamental citizenship platform is designed around a concept of what we call being a force for good and a force for growth," Jones said. "We have been looking for ways we can demonstrate the breadth of how we believe we can have an impact beyond the walls of P&G but do that in a way that really integrated those messages into programming where consumers can understand the full impact of a lot of the big issues we are talking about."

He added that people generally understand concepts such as racial and gender equality, but the solutions for specific issues aren’t clear. 

"We are looking at this [series] as a way to drive awareness around these issues that mobilize people to actually take action," Jones said. "This was about making a high-level concept very real and tangible and showing the real-life impact that it has."

Although P&G is an underwriter of the series, the episodes do not focus on the CPG giant or its brands. Rather, the company considers itself a supporter and advocate for the movement.

"For us, it was important to set parameters around the stories we wanted to tell," Jones said. "The objective for us was to make sure the underlying issue was told in a compelling way. We will build on this by hosting discussion sessions and screenings. It is an integrated concept platform."

Hill+Knowlton Strategies is supporting P&G on this initiative. 

For the past few years, P&G has produced purpose-focused brand films. In 2017, The Talk took on racism against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement. P&G launched followup The Look in June. P&G also reckoned with its own past in Out of the Shadows, a documentary about its history with LGBT issues that debuted at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year.

Don’t miss Jones at the PRWeek conference, PR Decoded: Purpose Principles, next month in Chicago. He will be discussing bold moves, dicey detours and lessons learned in the pitfalls of purpose.

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