Creative in association withGear Seven

Putney Launches AI Chatbot to Educate Others on Juneteenth

Advertising Agency
Kansas City, USA
BarkleyOKRP’s Black ERG, The Hub, and Putney, a Black-owned subsidiary of BarkleyOKRP, collaborated to create CHATJuneteenth

Celebrated on June 19th, Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. This holiday has been observed by Black Americans for nearly 160 years but was only made a federal holiday in 2021 by president Joe Biden. Over the past four years, many Black Americans have been tasked with educating their non-Black coworkers, neighbours, and friends about the holiday and its traditions—a responsibility they should not have to bear alone. 

In response, BarkleyOKRP’s Black ERG, The Hub, and Putney, a Black-owned subsidiary of BarkleyOKRP, collaborated to create CHATJuneteenth, a cheeky, and unique AI chatbot designed to educate non-Black people about Juneteenth. 

“Black people have never had the luxury of having our history taught. It’s always been OUR responsibility to educate others, even though something like Juneteenth is just as a part of American history as the 4th of July” said Michael Craighead, CD at BarkleyOKRP.

This innovative tool helps alleviate the pressure and perceived obligation from Black people feeling like they need to educate others on a critical piece of American history so they can actually celebrate the holiday as it was intended and as they have for over 150 years.

Built on the Putney website, the chatbot exclusively answers questions about Juneteenth, providing extensive responses in its own voice. This effort includes input from nearly 20 Black American BarkleyOKRP employees from multiple departments and locations.

“It started out as a project about showing people how we celebrate, and it got so much bigger when we started talking about how we are always educating people on what it means to be Black,” said Elena Robinson, Putney founder and BarkleyOKRP head of production. “The consensus was that we don’t have the energy for it. We needed to find a way around it, and CHATJuneteenth was born.”

In addition to the chatbot, the campaign includes website resources with novels, articles and films to help educate people on Juneteenth and a film that promotes the Juneteenth chatbot.

Building the chatbot and website aims to give Black people the space to celebrate the day rather than educating non-Black people on the day. However, the team truly feels that this initiative is about encouraging non-Black people to educate themselves about Juneteenth and Black issues in general. As stated on the website, Black history is American history.

“We don’t want this to stop here. This isn’t about a day. This is about people understanding that this is their history too,” said Rony Castor, GCD at BarkleyOKRP. “Simply asking us what Juneteenth is and then moving on, only to ask the same question the following year, needs to end. This is about learning the history of this country from a different perspective than what we learned in school. Do the work.”

For more information about CHATJuneteenth, please visit here and on Instagram here.

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