Actions and words - both big and small - can change someone’s entire day, year or even life. This is the powerful message of the Ad Council’s new bullying prevention campaign.
The "Because of You" initiative, developed by creative agency TBD and directed by youth creative studio and production company Adolescent Content, aims to help teenagers better understand the impact of their own actions, particularly in a culture where being mean seems almost normal. Not only is it the start of the school season, it’s closing in on Bullying Prevention Month in October, making it the perfect time for teens to reflect on their behaviors.
To bring the campaign to life, TBD and Adolescent created several PSAs, including "Because of You," which features real stories from teens about the impact their peers have had on their lives, and a social experiment video called "Honest Yearbook." In the latter film, TBD leveraged a real high school yearbook photoshoot to film reactions of teenagers watching unexpected testimonial videos of their friends.
Rafael Rizuto, co-founder and CCO of TBD, said he wanted to make both films as authentic as possible, which is why he went to Adolescent to find youth directors. Claire Jantzen, 19, directed "Because of You," while 20-year-old Shea Glover directed "Honest Yearbook."
In addition to filming high school teens, TBD got four talent ambassadors to share their stories, including actor Lonnie Chavis; YouTuber and actress Jenn McAllister; content creator and makeup artist James Charles; and musician Jacob Sartorius.
After almost 20 years in this business, this is the most powerful thing I’ve had the chance to be part of," Rizuto told Campaign. "Seeing those kids opening up about depression, self-harm and bullying in such brave ways is something I'll never forget."
Rizuto added that the word "bullying" is very nuanced and complicated today, which is why it’s important for teens to understand the impact of their actions and words more than ever. "Even if you think you're a good person, you could be a bully without knowing it. For example, if everyone goes to a party and you purposely don’t invite someone - even without any bad intention - it’s a form of bullying," he said.
The campaign is being amplified with donated media and support from media partners Twitter and Snapchat. Twitter is putting forward a special emoji for the #BecauseOfYou hashtag and plans to tap into new products to boost the campaign message.
Corporate partners include 3 Musketeers, Adobe, General Mills and Twitter, and nonprofit supporters include Be Strong, Born This Way Foundation, The Bully Project, GLSEN, PACER National Bullying Prevention Center and The Trevor Project. Editorial services are also being facilitated by Beast, Hasan & Partners worked on website development and HelpGood is helping with social media management.
Rizuto said that shorter films of individuals will live on BecauseOfYou.org, as well as an "Honest Cards" interactive game, which will help teens consider the effects of their positive and negative actions.
"The main goal is to reach out to teens in a a very authentic way, and the byproduct of that is to reach adults, as well," said Rizuto.