NEW ORLEANS, LA—Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and award-winning film director and producer Spike Lee introduced a multimedia, public awareness campaign called “Flip the Script,” aimed at changing attitudes of and about young, black men. The campaign is part of the Landrieu administration’s NOLA FOR LIFE murder reduction strategy, and was planned in partnership with Spike DDB, an international ad agency led by Lee, and the Urban League of Greater New Orleans.
The idea behind “Flip the Script” is that the frequent news reports that mark each murder do little more than discourage, desensitize and distract from the critical truth that these young men’s lives matter. The campaign reveals what the community-at-large has been missing by taking the violence out of the headlines and showing the hope that remains. The aim is to inspire youths to change their thinking from defeated to emboldened and then to work alongside them to “flip the script” on New Orleans’ future by providing the resources to help them turn their lives around. In addition to reaching young men, the campaign focuses on how national and local media portray young, black men, and seeks to promote a more positive portrayal in the media.
“There’s no doubt we have a serious problem,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “For decades, we have woken up each morning expecting violence in the headlines, expecting for young black men to fall prey to the streets. But it does not have to be that way. It’s time for us to help change the headlines and tell the story of what could be. These young men’s lives are worth fighting for. We can help them flip their script. We can all do something to help. That, in essence, is what this campaign is about.”
Spike Lee said, “Bright young lives are being snuffed out on New Orleans’ streets daily. Our young black men are killing each other like it's a self-imposed genocide. It is our job, our responsibility, to make them understand the value of their lives and help them to achieve their greatest potential.”
“FLIP THE SCRIPT” CAMPAIGN
The multimedia campaign includes television, radio, print, outdoor advertising, and digital components. Throughout the city, billboards and outdoor advertising will showcase common headlines that broadcast murders, but the messages will visually
take on the “Flip the Script” mantra by turning negative headlines into positive ones that highlight the change and results that the NOLA FOR LIFE plan seeks to achieve. All components can be viewed on a new website launched today, www.NOLAFORLIFE.org.
The web and social media components are meant to provide resources for young men looking to change their lives and for members of the community-at-large who are looking to help. The website provides information about local and national partner organizations who offer job and workforce training opportunities, extracurricular and mentorship opportunities, and rehabilitative and other services.
The website will also regularly highlight young men in New Orleans who have flipped the script on their own future and turned their lives around. Features already planned include the story 8th Ward resident Ryan Dalton, who was featured in Mayor Landrieu’s State of the City Address; the Hot 8 Brass Band; and up-and-coming rapper Dee-1.
Mayor Landrieu and the City of New Orleans have had a longstanding partnership in advocacy with Spike Lee that dates back to the filming of When the Levees Broke and If God is Willing and The Creek Don’t Rise. Lee’s work has shown true sensitivity to the people of the City and helped attract international aid in the aftermath of the federal levee failures following Hurricane Katrina. Spike DDB designed the public awareness campaign pro bono. The Urban League of Greater New Orleans signed on as a key partner and the fiscal agent for the project.
“The Urban League of Greater New Orleans is excited to be a part of this campaign,” said Nolan Rollins, CEO of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans. “Flip the Script is about finding the positive within the negative. Our city is filled with positive people and positive communities and this is our opportunity to have those community voices both seen and heard.”
NOLA FOR LIFE FUND LAUNCHED
As part of the campaign launch, Mayor Landrieu announced that the City has created a NOLA FOR LIFE Fund housed at the Greater New Orleans Foundation. The City of New Orleans will match the tax-deductible donations, dollar for dollar, up to $250,000. The NOLA FOR LIFE Fund, which is a concept developed by the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, will support the efforts of high-quality, local service providers and individuals who’ve chosen to flip their script, as well as initiatives included the NOLA FOR LIFE plan.
“To end the cycle of violence and death on the streets of New Orleans, we must have all hands on deck,” said Mayor Landrieu. “Some need to take greater personal responsibility. For some of us, that means volunteering. For others, we can proactively invest in the lives of youths that are looking to turn their lives around. This fund will support those efforts.”
Dr. Albert Ruesga, President and CEO of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, said, “We are pleased to be in partnership with the City of New Orleans to implement the NOLA for Life initiative that has the potential to not only transform the lives of those most directly impacted, but to improve the quality of life for everyone in our community.”
ABOUT THE NOLA FOR LIFE PLAN
In May, Mayor Landrieu released NOLA FOR LIFE: A Comprehensive Murder Reduction Strategy, containing new initiatives to improve public safety in New Orleans. During the 2012 State of the City Address, Mayor Landrieu laid out the City’s comprehensive, detailed approach to reduce murders, building on the foundation laid from his inauguration in May 2010 to present.
Since May 2010, the Administration invited the Department of Justice in to help rebuild the NOPD, launched a comprehensive 65-point plan to completely reform the police department, enhanced the homicide unit, instituted community-oriented policing, improved the NOPD crime lab, launched CeaseFire New Orleans, and re-instituted a robust Project Safe Neighborhood alliance with local and federal prosecutors, among other initiatives.
Building on the work of the first two years, the NOLA FOR LIFE plan includes new initiatives that have an immediate and urgent focus on stopping the shootings. Recognizing that law enforcement alone cannot solve the murder problem, the NOLA FOR LIFE plan takes a holistic approach to get to the root of the problem, and divides the plan into five main categories:
Stop the Shooting;
Invest in Prevention;
Promote Jobs and Opportunity;
Improve the NOPD; and
Get Involved and Rebuild Neighborhoods.
In addition to the “Flip the Script” public awareness campaign, new initiatives in the plan includes the City’s adoption of a murder reduction effort to stop the shootings, called Group Violence Reduction, an approach developed by nationally-renowned criminologist, David M. Kennedy.
Development of the NOLA FOR LIFE plan was fueled by the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, which worked with NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas, former Criminal Justice Commissioner James Carter and Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo to develop strategies that specifically address the high murder rate in New Orleans. Together, these officials analyzed homicide data to fully understand murder trends; brought in regional and national crime experts to share solutions specific to New Orleans’ murder problem; and hosted focus groups to hear from citizens most often directly affected by murder – youth at risk of violence, community service providers, and police officers. After examining current initiatives, engaging the community to identify issues that contribute to the City’s murder epidemic, and researching and developing effective strategies, the NOLA FOR LIFE plan was created.
Mayor Landrieu commented, “We are working day and night to reduce murder. But we all must do our part. I am asking the people of New Orleans to get involved, help us Flip the Script and take a stand with NOLA FOR LIFE.”
To learn more about the campaign and about Mayor Landrieu’s plan, please visit www.NOLAFORLIFE.org.