Knowing that Brazilian colloquialisms include a number of words and phrases with racist roots, telecom company TIM created The Awareness Keyboard, an app that calls out problematic language when a user types it into his or her phone, explains why the word or phrase is harmful, and offers more appropriate alternatives for the user to try instead.
Brazil has a shameful past when it comes to slavery. That past is still felt today when it comes to popular expressions with racist origins that are still used by many people in the country.
Telecom company TIM wanted to educate people about the racism that appears in everyday vocabulary and help deconstruct structural racism in Brazil. The brand wanted to start a relevant discussion about racism, positioning itself as an activist brand that is part of this urgent conversation.
Themes such as structural racism and the inclusion of Black people have been increasingly discussed in Brazil. Racism is still present in everyday life and, as such, it is an important subject of discussion within the Brazilian society.
TIM's target audience was, by default, its customers. But the brand also wanted to extend its reach to Brazilian society at large, striving to reach as many people as possible to make a positive impact.
Through social listening, TIM noticed that people were asking for help in identifying alternatives to racist terms used in conversations. It was a recurrent theme, particularly during the days leading up to Black Awareness Day. TIM decided to use this data to promote awareness of the racist roots of some vocabulary used by Brazilians.
TIM wanted to go beyond simply correcting the use of insensitive language and educate individuals on how all of us sometimes thoughtlessly use common phrases with racist roots. The brand wanted to contribute to the fight to deconstruct structural racism by not only explaining the reason for the correction of a given racist word or phrase, but also by highlighting the importance of ending its use.
To do this, TIM developed the "Awareness Keyboard," an app that automatically corrected someone when he or she typed a racist term into his or her phone's keyboard, while also explaining the reasoning behind the correction. Any Brazilian could download the app, whether he or she was a TIM customer or not.
To properly promote and encourage use of the app, TIM prepared a channel strategy with a series of phases and objectives for the launch. All communication efforts were geared toward generating knowledge, engagement, and buzz, and toward encouraging the download of the keyboard application. It was an umbrella of content on TIM's relationship channels, social networks, articles, PR, websites, influencers, and spontaneous media.
TIM is deeply involved in social issues in Brazil, developing different projects and campaigns around social responsibility. Its main goal is to educate, amplify, and raise awareness of causes related to LGBTQ+, racism, and gender equity. TIM is also known to give space on its social network to influencers working against harmful social trends, allowing them to educate the audience.
Being one of the largest telephone operators in Brazil, TIM knows the crucial role that smartphones and the internet play in shaping contemporary society. TIM also understands that technology can be used in a positive way to raise awareness about intrinsic racism in language, reinforcing the pillar of diversity and, most importantly, creating a tool to fight racism with an even more powerful weapon: education.
Overall Campaign Execution:
TIM used a mix of shared, owned, and earned media, focusing on social channels. The effort was led by a team of 12 Black influencers with diverse backgrounds who came together to produce content. They were joined by popular singer IZA, TIM's brand ambassador and an important voice for the Black movement, who also amplified the discussion.
The app was launched on November 20, when Brazil celebrates Black Awareness Day — a day dedicated to reflecting on Black people's importance in society and discussing how to enhance inclusion.
Dubbed the TIM Black Squad, the 12 influencers used their own social networks to promote content and took over TIM's social channels to share posts, tutorial videos, and a live stream.
The campaign was implemented in two phases. First, TIM focused on pushing the conversation through its Squad via branded content and with PR promotion. Then the brand used bumper ads to encourage users to download the app.
In 2020, a year marked by the pandemic, mobile made more sense than ever. During the lockdown, cell phones became an incredibly significant communication tool for people.
With the help of Black academics and linguistic experts, TIM carried out extensive research on the Portuguese language and how it is used in Brazil. This study was the basis for a database with hundreds of terms and expressions that fed the Awareness Keyboard. The app was visible any time a user used his or her keyboard and highlighted expressions considered inappropriate. When the user clicked on these terms, the app explained why they were considered racist and offered options to replace them.
The telecom category is often criticized, receiving a high rate of negative comments in response to any digital campaign. For this project, however, TIM achieved 64 percent positive comments, more than 12,000 mentions on social, 165,000 total impressions, and 11,000 engagements. The Awareness Keyboard app was ranked among the Top 10 most-downloaded apps on both major app stores, with almost 20 million total downloads.
TIM did not only want to raise awareness on the topic of racism; its main goal was to enhance knowledge and deconstruct popular expressions with racist roots. Though it is a very difficult goal to achieve and measure, the number of app downloads suggest that a meaningful difference was made.
TIM's app is currently undergoing new updates to continue to reinforce the value of diversity. The brand has already launched a version with the LGBTQ+ community in mind and is currently working on educating Brazilians about sexist and ableist language.