NEW YORK: Monica Lewinsky is taking on cyberbullying with a PSA that brings cruel online comments into the real world.
The PSA, called In Real Life, features actors bullying and being bullied in public spaces, as well as people’s reactions to the situations, with the question of why bullying is unacceptable in real life but normal online. The actors were filmed with hidden cameras to capture the responses of bystanders coming to the defense of victims. The victims included a young girl, a gay couple, and a Muslim woman.
Dini von Mueffling Communications and BBDO, the same combination that won recognition at this summer’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for the the PSA Evan on behalf of Sandy Hook promise, worked on the campaign.
"The film achieves what the mission is, to show that people engage online in a way they would never engage in real life," said Dini von Mueffling, founder and CEO of the eponymous firm. "We took comments that have been put online that were really vindictive and mean but real comments, and we used actors to re-enact those in real life using hidden cameras. The idea was to see what kind of reaction it would get from people. People rose the occasion. The response was incredible and yet people don't do that online."
The PSA debuted on Monday on CBS This Morning alongside an interview with Lewinsky and was featured in stories on People.com, Refinery29, and Glamour.com. The campaign is building support online via the #ClickWithCompassion hashtag.
Von Mueffling said the campaign launch was planned for National Bullying Prevention Month, which runs throughout October. Organizers also released an emoji keyboard that directs users to anti-bullying organizations when they see bullying online.
"This is a way for people for take action," von Mueffling said. "An image is much stronger and faster, and we respond more quickly to an image than to a comment."
Lewinsky has served as an anti-bullying advocate since returning to public life in 2015 with a TED Talk on bullying. She works with anti-bullying organizations including The Diana Award’s Anti-Bullying Program and Bystander Revolution.