Teens Push Back Against Culture of Meanness

The Ad Council launched a new film “A Message from the Future” as part of the Because of You campaign, a public service advertising campaign that addresses teen bullying.  The new work encourages teens to consider the long-lasting impact of their actions, in a culture where meanness is normalized, to create a more empathetic, inclusive community.

The launch comes at the start of a new year and decade, an important time to reflect on how what we do today can impact someone’s tomorrow. More than previous generations, today’s teens feel personally responsible for creating the world they want to live in. Most teens want to do the right thing, but sometimes don’t realize how their actions, big and small can deeply affect others both positively and negatively.

In the creative, using an innovative technology technique, teens were aged up to show that our words and actions can impact someone’s day, year or life.  Teens were surprised with a live message from their aged-up friend, thanking them for stepping in when they were experiencing bullying, driving home that our words and actions can have long-lasting effects on someone’s future. The creative features The Head and the Heart’s song “See You Through My Eyes,” provided by Warner Records.

“No one can get through to teens better than their own friends – which is why this campaign is so resonant and effective,” said Heidi Arthur, Chief Campaign Development Officer at the Ad Council. “I love how this next phase uses breakthrough technology to show the lasting impact you can have on someone.”

“Last year we flipped the concept on how anti-bullying campaigns have always been done in the past.” said Rafael Rizuto, co-founder and CCO of TBD. “This year we wanted to evolve the campaign to show them that their words and actions have a long-lasting impact. To achieve this, we turned the impossible into possible by using cutting edge tech to bring their friends from the future to deliver a special message. Live.”

“We knew we wanted to age the kids by 10 years in a live, real-time setting to create an emotionally raw experience,” noted Anrick Bergman, the film’s director. “To achieve this, we started by scanning data of the teen’s face. Then we digitally changed the shape of a blank face to match their facial features and movements, capturing not just how they look, but how they move, talk, and their small, unique, behavioral micro signals. By using a TrueDepth camera setup, we allowed them to control their older selves in real-time, to create an honest way for them to pay a heartfelt thank you to their friend.”

Last year’s Honest Yearbook film demonstrated the real impact, good and bad, that teens have on each other and had significant positive effects: after launch, fewer teens reported being stereotyped, excluded from activities, and ignored. What’s more, more teens felt like they could make a difference against bullying and felt personally responsible for creating a more empathetic culture. These shifts happened despite a culture of pervasive meanness—where name calling, shaming, rumor spreading and isolating others—is the norm.

Developed pro bono by San Francisco-based independent creative agency TBD, Because Of You will drive engagement with U.S. teens throughout the year through new PSA assets placed in donated media and with support from media partners, per the Ad Council’s model. 

The Ad Council corporate partners supporting the campaign include Adobe, Hallmark, and Johnson & Johnson. Non-profit partners include Be Strong, Born This Way Foundation, The Bully Project, GLSEN, No Bully, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, and The Trevor Project. Partners will help extend the reach of Because of You to their respective audiences.

To learn more about the campaign, visit BecauseOfYou.org and follow @BecauseOfYou on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with the hashtag #BecauseOfYou.

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