Ad Council’s Newest Campaign Helps Teens Learn Empathy and Fight Harassment

A teen from the "Because of You" video.
Ad Council’s Newest Campaign Helps Teens Learn Empathy and Fight Harassment

Teens are rarely calling it “bullying” these days, but they’re constantly exposed to it, especially online. Everything from body shaming and rumors to verbal threats and isolation from friend groups can make it feel like hostility and harassment are the norm, and this is not okay.

That’s why we, alongside General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Twitter, Wells Fargo, and others, have teamed up with the Ad Council to help stop peer mistreatment — both online and offline. Because of You, Ad Council’s latest campaign, is designed to give teens concrete, relatable, real-life examples of how young people are impacted by the words and actions of their peers. The goal is to help them discover their own power to make change, and to give them the self-awareness, tools, and vocabulary to realize the impact their words and actions have on others and themselves.

The Because of You campaign continues our collaboration with the Ad Council to help end bullying. In 2015, Adobe sponsored the I Am a Witness campaign, which unveiled a brand-new emoji — a speech bubble with an eye at its center — as a powerful way for teens to call out bullies and support victims.

“Bullying has never been easier, yet it is one of the most insidious, pervasive and silent issues facing society today. And it’s affecting our most precious resource: our young people, our future. I hope with campaigns like Because of You, we can provide youth with tools and knowledge that will allow them to understand, reflect and ultimately drive change,” said Ann Lewnes, Adobe’s CMO.

The new Because of You campaign includes an online video, PSAs, print and digital ads, and a website. The video, “Yearbook,” is set at a high-school yearbook photo shoot. Just as teens are about to have their photos taken, they’re surprised by emotional video messages from friends, telling them how their kindness has made a profound difference.

The PSAs and other ads follow this theme, with real-life teens sharing their stories of pain, and how friends helped get them through. The spots will run in donated space and time through media outlets nationwide with support from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.

The campaign’s website, BecauseOfYou.org, digs deeper into teens’ stories and invites them to interact with “Honest Cards.” The cards help visitors reflect on how their actions effect their peers, with tips for developing kindness and empathy.

The stories for the campaign are all drawn from the real lives of students and young talent ambassadors, including actor Lonnie Chavis, YouTuber and actress Jenn McAllister, content creator and makeup artists James Charles, and musician Jacob Sartorius. And the San Francisco-based independent creative agency behind the concept, TBD, even worked with young directors, 20-year-old Shea Glover and 19-year-old Claire Jantzen from Adolescent, to make sure the pieces ring true to teens’ everyday lives.

“We wanted to be as authentic as possible in encouraging teens to reflect on how their words and actions can have a profound impact on their peers, while not preaching to them,” said Rafael Rizuto, co-founder and CCO of TBD. “By reframing the conversation, we can demonstrate the effect teens have on each other, both positively and negatively.”

To learn more about the new Because of You campaign, visit BecauseOfYou.org.

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