Press Release

Bullying Prevention Campaign to Empower Parents Launches During National Bullying Prevention Month

Multimedia PSA campaign developed by Ad Council and DDB New York in partnership with AOL, Facebook, Johnson & Johnson, Free To Be Foundation, Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention, filmmaker Lee Hirsch (BULLY) and The BULLY Project, and U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services

Campaign partners also include Carat, Communispace, MLBNetwork, National PTA, Univision and Turner Broadcasting’s CNNand Cartoon Network

NEW YORK, NY, October 18, 2012 — More than 80% of high school students in the U.S. report that they witness bullying at least once a week, according to a national survey released today by A national multimedia public service advertising (PSA) campaign is launching today to educate and empower parents to talk to their children about ways they can be more than a bystander. The PSAs are being distributed nationwide to coincide with National Bullying Prevention Month.

The campaign was developed by the Ad Council in partnership with AOL, Facebook, Johnson & Johnson, the Free to Be Foundation, the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention, and the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. The PSAs were developed and created pro bono by New York advertising agency DDB New York and filmmaker Lee Hirsch (BULLY) and The BULLY Project.

More than one in four children in the U.S. report experiences with bullying, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. While parents throughout the U.S. are concerned about this issue, research shows they’re more reactive than proactive when it comes to talking to their children about it, (Communispace and Ad Council 2012). Additionally, while three-quarters of teens say the best thing that others can do to help stop bullying is to intervene, only 16% report their peers “often or always” intervene and half of teens say they “rarely or never” see anyone do so. (, 2012)

“To stop bullying, we have to start with parents,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This partnership will provide parents the tools they need to recognize the signs of bullying, to talk to their children about it, and to empower themselves and their children with effective, low risk strategies to end bullying.”

Created pro bono by DDB New York in partnership with the Ad Council, the effort includes a series of television, radio, print, and online PSAs as well as digital and social media strategies that encourage parents to, “teach your kids how to be more than a bystander.”

Actress, activist and co- founder of the Free to Be Foundation Marlo Thomas began an anti-bullying campaign on her website on the Huffington Post and AOL in May 2011. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years about tackling problems,” says Thomas, “it’s that the first thing you need to do is spark the conversation. So let’s start talking about bullying. With our neighbors. With our friends and family. With fellow parents at PTAmeetings. And with each other. It’s time to take bullying down.”

Per the Ad Council’s model, the creative will be distributed to media outlets nationwide and the PSAs will run entirely in donated media time and space.

“Bullying is an issue that affects all children in our country and, as we have all seen, the impact of these incidents can be devastating,” said Peggy Conlon, president & CEO of the Ad Council. “Parents are a very important part of the equation and they need to understand their role so they will proactively communicate with their children about bullying. I am proud that so many of our partners in the federal government, non-profit, media and corporate communities have stepped up and provided such significant donated support for this critical effort that will help keep our children safer.”

Several campaign partners have developed PSAs and resources featuring their talent to extend the reach and impact of the campaign, including:

  • The BULLY Project helped create a PSA that shows scenes from Lee Hirsch’s award-winning documentary, BULLY, which opened theatrically last Spring to critical acclaim and chronicles five American families on the front lines of the fight against bullying;
  • Univision developed Spanish-language campaign spots that will run across its television, radio and online platforms;
  • Turner Broadcasting’s CNN and Cartoon Network, in support of its Stop Bullying: Speak Up initiative, developed a television PSA featuring CNN’s Anderson Cooper;
  • MLB Network developed PSAs featuring MLB Network host Brian Kenny; MLBNetwork analyst and former National League All-Star Sean Casey; and MLB Network analyst Dan Plesac, a three-time American League All-Star and 18-year Major League veteran.

“Bullying is a crisis that demands fierce and urgent action,” said filmmaker Lee Hirsch. “The Ad Council’s PSA campaign is a critical tool to engage parents in a national mission to stop bullying now and forever. The BULLY Project is excited to be a part of a campaign that can help create schools and communities where respect and empathy are championed, where each American child can thrive.”

“The messaging component of the campaign is purposefully crafted to be as uncomfortable and disconcerting as possible to remind parents of the gravity of what their kids are witnessing and the devastating effects this experience can have on them,” said Joe Cianciotto, executive creative director, DDB New York. “To balance the urgency of the narrative with an empowering call to action, the campaign offers an educational resource at where parents can go to teach their kids safe ways to be more than a bystander.”

The campaign directs parents to, the Federal repository for bullying prevention. The site, produced by DDB New York in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education, among other federal agencies, provides a variety of resources for parents including tips for how their children can address bullying, informative videos and content that they can share with their children or other parents. Low risk actions children can take to become more than a bystander and help stop bullying, include: Tell a trusted adult, like a family member, teacher or coach; Help the person being bullied get away from the situation; Be a friend to the person being bullied; Set a good example – do not bully others; and Don’t give bullying an audience.

Parents are also directed to visit the Stop Bullying Speak Up Facebook page, developed with CNN and Cartoon Network, which today has more than one million likes and has generated more than 140,000 pledges to stop bullying. Facebook will deeply integrate the Ad Council PSA campaign into the page and will also promote the campaign throughout the site.

Several media companies have also made early commitments to support the PSAs in donated media. AOL will be donating 170 million impressions to the Web ads. ThroughAOL, the campaign will receive space for banner ads, a feature in the “You’ve Got” video series starring Marlo Thomas and Kelly Ripa and a spot on the AOL Impact page. Several publications have committed to donated space for the PSAs, includingParentingThe Food Network magazine, Cosmopolitan magazines, select Time Inc. magazines and select newspapers across the country.

Carat, a leading communications planning and media buying agency, is developing and executing a robust media strategy and communications plan to help secure additional high profile targeted placements for the PSAs across TV, digital and print. The NationalPTA will help get the campaign out to their network of parents and schools.

The PSAs were informed by qualitative research donated by Communispace. The research was conducted in three rounds using Communispace’s proprietary Ideaspace online communities and included parents of school-age kids.’s findings stemmed from an interactive Facebook application, done in partnership with the movie Bully. The questionnaire collected responses from more than 50,000 high school students nationwide from April through August 2012. For the full report, visit is the largest U.S. organization for teens and social change.


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