The “Be More Than A Bystander” Campaign For National Bullying Prevention Month

Developed By The Ad Council And DDB New York Debuts New Psas


In an effort to educate and empower parents to speak to their children about bullying, a new series of television public service advertisements (PSAs) are being launched as an extension of the Be More Than a Bystander campaign. The PSAs are being distributed nationwide to coincide with Bullying Prevention Month.


The campaign was developed by the Ad Council in partnership with the Adobe Foundation, Arcus Foundation, AOL, Facebook, Johnson & Johnson, Cartoon Network’s Stop Bullying: Speak Up, the Free to Be Foundation, and the Department of Education; and the PSAs were created pro bono by New York advertising agency DDB New York, filmmaker Lee Hirsch (BULLY) and The BULLY Project, MLB Network, and NBA TV and HLN.

Bullying is the most critical issue concerning parents today, ranking higher than school grades, self-esteem issues, drug and alcohol use and sexual activity, according to a recent Ad Council tracking study.I Research has shown that the bystander can play a pivotal role—when a third party intervenes, bullying stops within 10 seconds more than half of the time.II

Actress, activist and co- founder of the Free to Be Foundation, Marlo Thomas began an anti-bullying campaign on her 63684-trash-originalwebsite on the Huffington Post and AOL, and she is a founding partner of the Be More Than a Bystander campaign.

Children who are bullied in America are issuing a silent scream for help. It is up to us to listen for that scream,” said Thomas. “Our hope is that our campaign is a lifeline and source of real information for parents struggling with this difficult issue.”

First launched in October 2012, the Bullying Prevention Campaign includes a new series of television PSAs and social media strategies that encourage parents to, “teach your kids how to be more than a bystander.” In the six months following the initial campaign launch, there was a significant increase in awareness among parents of the PSAs and the website,, according to Ad Council research. In that time there was also a significant increase in the number of parents who searched for bullying-related information and resources online (from 34% to 39%). This year, several campaign partners developed the PSAs featuring their talent to extend the reach and further the impact of the campaign, including:

Director Lee Hirsch of The BULLY Project, along with DDB New York, helped create a PSA that features the story of Caine Smith, a middle schooler bullied for his perceived sexual orientation;

MLB Network developed PSAs featuring MLB Network host Brian Kenny and MLB Network analyst and former National League All-Star Sean Casey;

NBA TV developed PSAs featuring on-air talent Steve Smith and Vince Cellini, to be distributed later this month;

HLN developed PSAs featuring “Raising America” host Kyra Phillips;

Online-only Celebrity Videos created from footage from show Mondays with Marlo, a series of online videos showcasing notable celebrities offering their thoughts and experiences with bullying that will be release online and through social media.


The Bully Project is proud to partner with the Ad Council and DDB by sharing powerful stories and resources that compel action,” said Lee Hirsch, Director of The BULLY Project. “We believe that American families are answering the call to proactively teach their Children strategic ways to respond to bullying.”

The new PSAs developed by Lee Hirsch and DDB New York direct audiences to, which provides tools and resources for parents and educators, including a downloadable Parent Action Toolkit. The network TV spots direct parents to visit, which was produced in collaboration with the Department of Education, among other federal agencies. It 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.

The campaign has stirred a visceral reaction among parents this past year,” said Joe Cianciotto, Executive Creative Director, DDB New York. “It was important for us to create a follow-up spot that maintains the level of authenticity of its predecessor, yet also provides a more intimate and personal perspective on the effects of bullying.”

Low risk actions children can take to become more than a bystander and help stop bullying, include: tell a trusted adult such as 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 play a critical role in combatting bullying as they are a trusted source of information for their children,” said Peggy Conlon, CEO and President, Ad Council. “Through this extraordinary collaboration of federal government, non-profit, media and corporate partners, our campaign will continue to empower parents with the recommend steps, tips, and tools to help defuse a bullying situation.”

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.

From the launch in October 2012 to March 2013, the campaign received over $22 million in donated media support. Per the Ad Council’s model, the new creative assets will be distributed to media outlets nationwide and the PSAs will continue to run entirely in donated media time and space.

I The Ad Council tracking study was an online survey, fielded by Lightspeed Research in June 2012 and June 2013, given to 851 U.S. parents of children ages 7-15.

II Hawkins, D. L., Pepler, D., and Craig, W. M. (2001). Peer interventions in playground bullying. Social Development, 10, 512-527