Monica Lewinsky Debuts “In Real Life” PSA and New #BeStrong Emojis

Bullying prevention social activist Monica Lewinsky announces the launch of the “In Real Life” PSA campaign – including new additions to the #BeStrong suite of emojis. October is Bullying Prevention Month and the film and emojis are designed to bring attention to the epidemic of cyberbullying and offer solutions. While the PSA draws attention to the difference between how people behave online versus in real life, the #BeStrong emojis allow people to take action when witnessing online bullying.

“In Real Life” is a powerful exploration of bullying that recasts the issue and asks the question: “If this behavior is unacceptable in real life, why is it so normal online?” BBDO New York, the award-winning agency, created the pro bono campaign, working from an insight shared with the agency by Ms. Lewinsky. BBDO collaborated with Lewinsky and the award-winning public relations firm Dini von Mueffling Communications to address this idea.

The #BeStrong emojis are an essential component of the campaign that provide smartphone users with a free downloadable keyboard (available on Apple Store & Google Play) of custom emojis created in collaboration with Snaps, the leading messaging platform creators. Lewinsky was instrumental in their creation, working with a semiotician to design them, as well as Portland, Oregon graphic designer, Kirsty Munn. Voted on by almost 5,000 young people around the world, the emojis visually embody compassion and solidarity for when words fail.

“The internet is an incredible tool that has allowed for unprecedented connection and the instant sharing of ideas. But in occupying a disembodied, digital space, we also risk losing our humanity and forgetting that other people are beyond the screen” says Lewinsky. “This campaign is a wakeup call to remind people that our instincts for empathy and caring are still strong. We just need to consciously extend that thinking online.”

“We wanted to remind people that at the receiving end of every comment is a real person. And words have real impact. It’s all too easy to forget that in today’s online culture,” said Greg Hahn, Chief Creative Officer, BBDO New York.

“Thousands of people are bullied online—daily. We’re so happy to support this powerful initiative and bring more awareness to National Bullying Prevention Month” said Vivian Rosenthal, Founder, Snaps

“It’s an honor to be part of this campaign and address the issue of online bullying, a topic that needs all the support it can get,” said Dini von Mueffling, principal of her eponymous PR firm, Dini von Mueffling Communications. “It’s a privilege to continue to work with Monica to magnify her work, especially at a time when clicking with compassion is more essential than ever.”

Monica Lewinsky entered the national consciousness in 1998 and overnight her previously private life became sensational fodder for the nascent world wide web. Her digital reputation was savaged in one of the first global news stories to break online. After a self-imposed departure from public life Monica returned and established herself as a voice in the bullying prevention space. Monica works with numerous anti-bullying organizations, and her 2015 TED Talk, “The Price of Shame” has been viewed over 11,400,000 times and translated into 41 languages. Monica has channeled her experience and expertise into a vital campaign for October and beyond. GlassView, a global video advertising company, has also lent their services to expand the PSA’s reach.

“In Real Life” serves as a wakeup call for many who have become numb to the horrors of cyberbullying, while the #BeStrong emojis offer a tangible way to show support moving forward. The campaign’s goal is clear: to have viewers reconsider the effect of their words and actions online. Our most vulnerable community, a new generation of internet literate youths, are at extreme risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that suicide is the leading cause of death for teens and young adults, estimating that 1 in 5 teen suicides are caused by bullying. It also reports that between 2007 and 2014 rates of death due to suicide among children more than doubled.

This campaign is in support of these organizations: The Amanda Todd Legacy, The Bully Project, The Childhood Resilience Foundation, The Diana Award + Anti Bullying Pro, Dance Free Movement, Ditch the Label, Global Dignity, Heart Mob, Hollaback!, Project Rockit, Sandy Hook Promise, and The Tyler Clementi Foundation.


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