Eighty eight percent of teens that use social media report witnessing others being mean or cruel on social networking sites. There are a lot of anti-bullying efforts speaking to bullies and victims, but, one key audience is rarely targeted: those who are witnesses. Ad Council's "I Am A Witness" campaign activates the "silent majority" of teens who witness it each day, transforming them from passive bystanders into a united, empowered and active collective that will speak up against bullying.
Our target audience was teens, ages 11-17—a difficult audience to reach through traditional media efforts—with the goal of getting them to understand and use a new campaign emoji to shut down instances of bullying.
Emoji are ubiquitous among teens and widely used in social media and messaging apps. We tapped into this native behavior and designed our own—an eye—to be used as a tool/resource in these hotbeds for cyber bullying.
To raise awareness of the I Am A Witness keyboard, which teens can use to call out bullying or send encouragement to victims of bullying, we knew we needed to talk to teens where they're already spending their time: on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Vine, and Facebook.
What's more, we needed our messaging to come directly from the mouths and perspectives of those that can most affect our audience. Our strategy was two-fold. First, develop content featuring social influencers that can leverage the Ad Council vast and comprehensive distribution abilities.
To that end, some of the most popular influencers for our target audience of 11-17 year olds appeared in our Anthem PSA: Grace Helbig, JoshuaDTV, Meghan Rienks, Brittani Louise Taylor, Amanda Steele, Trevor Moran, Jordyn Jones and Ricky Dillion, plus anti-bullying activity Lizzie Velasquez and celebrity Coy Stewart. Rachel Platten's hit-single "Stand By You" was the feature song. In the video, the influencers read mean comments about themselves, and then left viewers with the empowering message: "Now when you see bullying, you can do something about it." They each go on to declare "I Am A Witness" and ask viewers to stand up to bullying with the eye emoji, and to visit the campaign website to learn more.
The second piece of the strategy was to leverage the native audiences of our influencer's channels. Influencers Grace Helbig, DiegoZ, Harley Morenstein, Brandon Bowen, Glozell Green, Dave Days, Joshua DTV, and Taylor Davis created videos for their own channels including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Vine. Amanda Steele also gave an interview with Seventeen.com about the I Am A Witness campaign and her own experiences with bullying. Celebrities who shared campaign assets on their social channels include Rachel Platten, Lizzie Velasquez, Perez Hilton, Tyson Chandler, Taylor Hicks, Ashley Rickads, Eiza Gonzalez and Valerie Jarret.
By encouraging viewers to visit the campaign website, these influencers and celebrities help direct teens to the tools they need to stand up to bullying. At http://iwitnessbullying.org/, built on Tumblr, we provide users with tips and resources to take action against bullying. It features step-by-step directions on accessing the "I Am A Witness" emoji and keyboard, and features a "Send Kindness" section with uplifting user-generated images, GIFs and videos that visitors can send to anyone who's been bullied.
Since the October 22nd launch, campaign videos, including the PSAs and influencer videos, have received over 19 million video views and there have been nearly half a million website sessions. In less than four months, through the downloadable keyboard and Kik partnership, there have been 113,000 downloads of the Emoji keyboard and Emoji sticker pack, and 112,000 Emoji and Emoji stickers have been sent. The campaign hashtag #IAmAWitness has been used 29,000 times on Twitter and Instagram; in one day, our custom filters were viewed tens of millions of times on Snapchat; Reddit's "I Am A Witness" robot snoo delivered 200 million impressions, and Whisper sponsored posts have results in over 400,000 impressions and 5,000 "hearts."