Press Release

Ad Council, AOL, Facebook and Free to Be Foundation Unite for National Bullying Prevention Campaign

PSA Campaign will be Targeted to Parents

NEW YORK – In an effort to educate parents on their role in preventing bullying, the Ad Council has joined forces with AOL, Facebook and the Free to Be Foundation on a national public service advertising (PSA) campaign. The campaign is being announced today to coincide with National Bullying Prevention Month and it will debut in early 2012.

Nearly one in three children in the U.S report experiences with bullying.  Additionally, students involved in bullying are more likely to have challenges in school, to abuse drugs and alcohol, and to have health and mental health issues. According to a recent study by AC360, only 6.5% of youth pointed to parents as the source for stopping the bullying, and 81% of aggressive incidents are not reported to adults. 

“More than 30 years ago we created “Free to Be You and Me” as a way to send a message to parents to help their children know—that whoever you are, whatever you look like, whatever you sound like or dress like—whichever way you may be different is not only okay, but something to celebrate,” said Marlo Thomas. “Sadly today for millions of children, they are not free to be who they are and live in fear from bullies.  I am thrilled to be working with the Ad Council and great companies like AOL and Facebook to bring a new anti-bullying campaign to life. We need to educate parents about this horrible crisis and how they can engage their children and help them.”

The Ad Council and volunteer ad agency DDB are developing the campaign, which will include online and social media elements. This multimedia campaign will educate parents on the issue of bullying whether the children are bullies, victims or bystanders.

The campaign will direct parents to http://stopbullying.gov/, the Federal repository for bullying prevention. The site, produced by the Departments of Health and Human Services and Education among other federal agencies, provides resources on how to talk with children about the issue and identify the signs of bullying, arming parents with the tools they need to prevent bullying. The Ad Council is working with the Department of Education to ensure the campaign is consistent with the material on stopbullying.gov and the best available knowledge on the issue.

“We are pleased to be working with the Ad Council on this important issue,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “Bullying is an issue that must be addressed in order for our students to learn, and engaging parents in the discussion is a critical first step.”

The Ad Council brings to the campaign a longstanding commitment and history of addressing issues facing children in the U.S., including childhood obesity prevention, mentoring and high school dropout prevention.

“Sadly, bullying is incredibly prevalent in our country and, as we have all seen, the impact of these incidents can be devastating to our children. We know that targeted and consistent communications can change behaviors regarding a multitude of issues, and we believe this campaign has the potential to have the same impact as our Gay and Lesbian Bullying Prevention campaign has had on teens using the phrase “that’s so gay,” said Peggy Conlon, president & CEO of the Ad Council. “Parents are an important part of the equation and we want to help them proactively communicate with their children about bullying. We’re grateful to AOL and Facebook for their support and hope that others will join this collaborative effort.”

AOL and Facebook have made significant commitments to support the new PSAs through donated media. Additionally, the Ad Council anticipates further support from other corporate partners.

”The AOL brand is synonymous with trust and safety online, which is why we feel a deep responsibility to protect our kids online,” said Maureen Sullivan, SVP of Brand, Marketing and Communications at AOL. “Cyberbullying has increasingly become one of the most common forms of bullying. We see this partnership as an incredible opportunity to educate and empower the millions of parents that play an active role in protecting their kids online. We have been longstanding partners of the Ad Council, and are proud to partner with them to make a difference in the lives of our kids.”

"At Facebook, we take the issue of bullying seriously and we address it both on our platform through safety tools and through educational partnerships throughout the industry," said David Fischer, Vice President of Advertising and Global Operations at Facebook. "We are happy to join with the Ad Council to educate parents about how they can help stop bullying."

Free to Be Foundation
The Free To Be Foundation was incorporated in 1973 to develop and market educational products that challenge stereotypes, fight discrimination and encourage individuality and the freedom to pursue one’s talents and dreams. For nearly thirty years, the foundation has distributed Free To Be...You And Me book, album and video t parents and educators all over the world.

AOL
Having helped millions of Americans to get online, AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) is on a mission to inform, entertain and connect the world. The home of a growing collection of premium brands, AOL creates original content that engages audiences on a local and global scale. We help marketers connect with these audiences through effective and engaging digital advertising solutions.

Facebook
Founded in February 2004, Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment. Facebook is a privately held company and is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif. Facebook® is a registered trademark of Facebook Inc. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

The Ad Council
The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to deliver critical messages to the American public. Having produced literally thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to effect, tremendous positive change by raising awareness, inspiring action and saving lives.

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