Ad Council helps kids and parents stand up to bullies

In October, the Ad Council launched a campaign to help parents talk to their children about bullying.

Ad Council

Be More Than a Bystander

Agency mix
Home Front Communications (PR and social media); DDB (creative); Communispace (research); Hello! (production)

In-house team
Paula Veale, EVP, corporate communications; Heidi Arthur, SVP, group campaign director; Deborah Leiter, VP, campaign director; Ellyn Fisher, VP, corporate communications; Adrienne Ziluca, campaign manager; Meg Rushton, manager, public relations and social media

About $500,000

In October, the Ad Council launched a campaign to help parents talk to their children about bullying. The idea came from a discussion among Ad Council CEO Peggy Conlon; Marlo Thomas, activist and founder of the Free to Be Foundation; and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong.

"We want to change the social norm of what kids do when they see bullying," says Conlon.

She notes that 80% of high school students say they witness bullying every week, but don't know what to do about it.

Since kicking off, many partners have joined the effort, including Facebook, Johnson & Johnson, the US Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, and the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention. Home Front Communications and ad agency DDB New York worked on the initiative probono, with less than $5,000 allocated for PR outreach.

Dan Sallick, Home Front co-founder and partner, says the strategy is to reach parents.

"Another vital element is to combine the emotional connection to parents wanting to protect their kids with a lot of substantive information behind it, so using the emotional pull, but getting it back to the website where there is a lot of information on the subject," he adds. So far, the initiative has garnered coverage including The Today Show, The Washington Post, The New York Times, TechCrunch, and MediaPost. Social media has been a major part of the campaign, with Marlo Thomas' Twitter Q&A generating more than 450 tweets and reaching about 500,000 people. Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Dr. Phil, and Maria Shriver also tweeted about the campaign.

Launched November 2, AOL's 'You've Got' bullying prevention video with celebrity Kelly Ripa and Thomas received nearly 682,000 views in a month, and the Ad Council's bullying PSAs were viewed more than 22,300 times from the campaign's launch to December. 

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