This year’s MTV Movie Awards were filled with outrageous performances, glitzy outfits and Hollywood’s biggest stars. But, it was what aired during the commercial break that really stole the spotlight — a spot celebrating young men.

Getty Images partnered with creative agency Matter Unlimited and content studios Decon and Mass Appeal to create the 60-second video for My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative launched by US Pres. Barack Obama to address opportunity gaps for young men of color in America.

“The idea of My Brother’s Keeper is to elevate the discussion, and show all of us how we’re losing generations of children in America. Children of color start to lose a sense of hope, which prevents them from reaching their full potential,” Matter Unlimited founder and CEO Rob Holzer said. “Mentorship and guidance are one of the most effective ways to help these boys look past the roadblocks and actually reach for the opportunities available to them.”

In addition to mobilizing people to get involved through mentoring, the campaign is also focused on helping young men visualize a positive future for themselves.

“We wanted to take these moments of celebration and achievement that people don’t typically associate with people of color — like Supreme Court Justices, valedictorians and Nobel Prize winners,” Decon director Marcus Clarke said. “Putting the spotlight on young men of color paired with soundbites of achievement and accolades will hopefully inspire them to reach for and excel in these areas.”

The carefully selected imagery used in the video played a significant role in crafting an effective message.

“Images cut through the noise better than anything—they’re the most effective way to grab attention. When they’re executed well they have the ability to lift people out of the fog and have a moment of insight and focus,” Holzer said. “Marrying this beautiful imagery that’s very authentic and straightforward with messaging is what effectively frames it for people. Visuals are extremely powerful and always have been. It’s cliché to say that a picture’s worth a thousand words, but it’s true.”

The types of imagery used in advertising can be incredibly influential in how people view themselves. When young people see images of people who look like them portrayed in an optimistic light, it directly impacts their self-esteem. Recognizing this impact, image experts at Getty Images — exclusive image provider for the project — were incredibly strategic in the content they curated for this use.

“The images we selected focused on showing young men of color looking confident and exuding positivity,” Getty Images Research Editor Michelle Graham said. “We wanted to show them in upbeat, active situations that could help encourage and inspire them.”

While it was important to show a wide range of diversity in the people being featured, it was also imperative that the images felt genuine.

“We chose images that were as authentic as possible so these boys could see themselves in the images,” Getty Images Senior Art Director Amy Lehfeldt said. “If the images were studio lit or felt contrived, it wouldn’t resonate with the average person, no matter what color their skin was.”

As the first of many campaigns for My Brother’s Keeper, the goal is for this video not only to raise awareness but also to spark a positive dialogue around the issue.

“I hope this campaign shows how dynamic, complex and amazing the next generation can be with the right guidance. I think the youth need inspiration to strive for greatness in areas like academics, science, music or the arts and just allowing them the opportunity to explore these realms is a positive step,” Clarke said.  “We’re in a very important time for society so I hope this video can catapult the conversation in a positive direction and inspire people to look outside of preconceived stereotypes.”


Explore positive images of young men and boys of color at