Looking to raise your consciousness about the African American experience, and perhaps visit sites of cultural significance?
There's a map for that, created by agency Performance Art for lifestyle company Black & Abroad. The project arrives during Black History Month—though it's a travel push first and foremost—and serves as a follow-up to B&A's lauded "Go Back to Africa" tourism campaign from 2019.
The interactive "Black Elevation Map" helps users visualize an impressive array of domestic data. These range from historical sites and Black population statistics to minority-owned business locales and social-media activity. City guides abound, and you can tailor searches to specific interests—zeroing in on restaurants, wineries, tech hubs and sites memorializing the struggle for civil rights, for example—or follow Twitter and Instagram conversations about various regions.
Throughout, more data density equals heightened elevation points on the map.
"Go Back to Africa" turned a hateful phrase on its head to promote travel to the continent. A similar inversion dynamic powers this new initiative.
"From redlining to modern urban planning, you don't have to look far to see ways in which maps have been used to marginalize, divide and oppress communities," says B&A co-founder and creative lead Eric Martin. "We wanted to help Black travelers see the country in a way that prioritizes and celebrates the contributions of folks who look like us—and facilitate travel choices that deepen engagement within our community."
To that end, "repurposing a traditional elevation map is a way for us to weave joy and uplift into the story, the experience, and our interpretation of the data," he says.
Project contributors include designer Tré Seals, whose "Martin" typeface name-checks Dr. King and draws inspiration from '60s protest posters, with map icons derived from traditional African symbols.
"Rewiring a traditional elevation map—which measures height distance from sea level—felt like a powerful metaphor for the way this brand sees its community," Performance Art creative chief Ian Mackenzie tells Muse. "It speaks to the fact that Black & Abroad sees its community in the first place, where many other travel brands don't, and that it tends to see it in joyful, optimistic, uplifting terms."
A stylish :60, titled "A Hymn Away From Home," from director Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, hits some highlights:
Here's the copy, composed by Washington, D.C.-based poet Jasmine Mans:
"We are a people of many first steps.
Black voyagers making a home of sun and clay.
Discovering time through skyline.
You can find us in the mountains...
And the valleys.
The spoon which stirs the melting pot.
We made home of the dirt,
remembered the labors' song,
gave our hands to the industry,
we are Black-owned in everywhere.
We're the whistle in the country.
The yeast that makes the bread rise.
The caution in the kitchen.
The story of the theater.
The banned books in the basement...
Wherever you go...
You are only a hymn away from home."
"I learned and grew so much in ways that I didn't expect," Fyffe-Marshall says. "Traveling to these historically Black cities and exploring them through a Black lens, we were able to connect with so much beauty and history. Being able to sit with elders, and young folks who are trying to make their mark, really spoke to the strength and resilience of our community."
Indie businesses appearing in the film include the Black Surfer Collective, Celebrity Helicopters, Atlanta Harvest and Ms. Icey's Kitchen and Bar.
"As long as we work on this brand we'll owe a debt of gratitude to Frederick Nduna, whose idea it was to build a pan-African tourism campaign that reframes the racial slur 'Go Back to Africa' as a positive call to action for travel to the continent," Mackenzie says. "This time around, we did our best to place the bar around effectiveness. Could we make something that has a compelling idea at its core? That's useful? That makes an impact? And that can stand alongside that other big piece of work?"
He adds: "We're hoping the brand's audience of Black millennials with an interest in travel discover this map, see themselves in it, and feel inspired to see a bit more of the country, or to travel it in a way that strengthens connection to community."
IPG launched Performance Art last year. The new company's ranks include some teams and leaders from FCB/Six inToronto, which developed "Go Back to Africa."
Client: Black & Abroad
Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder: Eric Martin
Chief Strategy Officer & Co-Founder: Kent Johnson
Agency: Performance Art
Chief Creative Officer: Ian Mackenzie
Associate Creative Director: Pedro Izzo, Benson Ngo
Copywriter: Hemal Dhanjee, Tobi Adebowale, Paula Purdon
Copywriter: Jasmine Mans
Experience Delivery Lead: Nzegwhua Anderson
Senior Experience Designer: Joe Szabo
Experience Designer: Leon Mullings
Studio Designer: Emily Plewes
Executive Creative Director: Colin Craig
Producer: Sharon Nelson-Bailey
VP Strategy: Kirk Linkletter
Strategist: Leandra Legendre
Strategist: Simran Kaur
Strategist: Eli Ferrara
Strategist: Cassandra Cervi
SVP, Head of Strategy: Priyanka Goswami
Program Manager: Kaylen Dillon
Digital producer: Darwin Garcia
SVP, Managing Director: Jordan Dinning
Account Supervisor: Ricky Gunawan
Account Director: Jon Rae
VP: Technology: Stuart Cheesmond
Technical Solutions Consultant: Suraj Patel
Group Director, Product Development: Arnaud Icard
Lead Developer: John Iacoviello
Full stack developer: Cody Schreiber
Interface developer: Heung Lee
Senior Technical Architect: Valerian Nasqidashvili
Quality Assurance Lead: Natalia Zadorozhna
Quality Assurance Analyst: Nataliya Vislyanska
Solutions Consultants (BAs): Suraj Patel, Kaivalya Kashyap
Analytics Manager: Anil Iqbal
Junior Analyst: Shaista Meghji
Analytics Analyst: Abdul Dau
Consultant: Gigi Basanta
Chief Executive Officer: Andrea Cook
Chief Operations Officer: Elizabeth Sellors
Type: Vocal Type Co.
Designer: Tré Seals
Production: Alfredo Films
Director: Kelly Fyffe- Marshall
DOP: Shivam Pandya
Producer: Alex Henry
Producer: Holly Rowden
Editor: Michael Ofori-Attah
Online: Alter Ego
VFX Executive Producer: Hilda Pereira
VFX Producer: Andrew Tavares
Motion Designer: Rob Fisher
Motion Designer: Ian Flaig
Colourist: Conor Fisher
Colour assistant: Daniel Saavedra
VFX Artist: Joel Osis
VFX Assistant: Victoria Gaston
Audio: TA2 Sound + Music
Audio Director: Simon Jain
Project Manager: Heather Ngo
Audio Engineer: Dean Metherell
Assistant Audio Engineer: Justin Poon
Creative Director: Steve Gadsden
Media: Initiative Canada
Chief Strategy Officer: Nish Shah
Director, Communications Design: Lara Senbanjo
Director, Strategy: Christian Kern
Performance Marketing: Reprise Canada
Head of Content: Cynthia Steele
Sr. Director, Strategy & Social Commerce: Tyler Dmytrow
SVP, Global Client Solutions: Wendi Dunlap
Director, Audience Solutions: Mandy Wong
Manager, Audience Solutions: Rory Materson
Agency Partner: Meta
Creative Agency Partner: Kayla Osmond
Creative Agency Partner: Katie Wall
Creative Director: Scott Drey
Creative: Michael Dooley
PR: Shannon Stephaniuk