Clemenger BBDO Wellington & Assembly

Voice of Racism

The very best project in each discipline at the Best Design Awards is awarded the supreme, Purple Pin for work that truly raises the bar for New Zealand design.

Purple Pin 2021
Digital: Voice of Racism 
Studio: Clemenger BBDO Wellington

Judge's comments

A super clear idea that was seamless, using multiple mediums to get across a powerful message in an emotional way. This was a challenging subject represented in a sympathetic manner. The digital mouth was a great metaphor to represent the dehumanising effects of racism - with sound design that reflected the jarring impact racism has. All of this was delivered in an intuitive experience that was accessible to all. Innovating


Most of us are more than willing to say we’re anti-racist. But how can we actively and successfully fight racism if we don’t know what it can sound like? We needed to expose the spectrum of racism that exists in New Zealand, to allow people to see how they were contributing to harm.

Approach allows anyone to feel the burden of relentless racism. Thousands of real lived microaggressions were gathered from recipients, and each revoiced by Taika Waititi, facial-captured and individually rendered in Web GL. Binaural audio effects were applied to replicate the original context, and each microaggression was coded along several data points, eg intensity, then pulled from an algorithm. A non-descript character was designed to represent the voice, which reacted in real-time to the live audio, coming in and out of the darkness and varying in intensity. This gives each user a carefully crafted but completely unique, unpredictable and endless experience.

Voice of Racism is now used as a learning tool in government, sports, business, education and media. It is also housed in Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, becoming part of our national discussion on racism.

Racism in New Zealand tends, overall, to be less ‘extreme’ than in many parts of the world, but our systemic, unintentional and ‘small’ racism is not only prevalent, but leading to unequal mental health outcomes and reduced life expectancy. The campaign was designed to show the harm of lots of ‘small’ moments of racism, particularly when lived along more overt and aggressive examples.