Ad Council’s Unprecedented ‘I Am a Witness’ Campaign Gives Teens a Voice to Speak out Against Bullying

An estimated 13 million kids are bullied every day. According to the Pew Research Center, 90 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 who have witnessed some form of online cruelty say they have done nothing about it. And more than one-third admit ignoring online bullying on a regular basis.

Today, the Ad Council, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Adobe and other Ad Council partners, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Johnson & Johnson and Twitter, are taking a major step forward in empowering teens to speak out against—and stop—bullying, and we are proud to be a part of this effort.

The Ad Council’s new I Am A Witness campaign offers teens a way to make their voice heard: via a new emoji shaped like a speech bubble with an eye at its center. The emoji is both a symbol that can publicly and visibly call out bullies, as well as a gesture of support to the victims of bullying. The initiative speaks directly to teens through social media channels, complemented by traditional media outlets.

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Getting bystanders involved is key to help bring an end to bullying. The new I Am A Witness campaign aims to activate the silent majority of kids who witness bullying each day but who haven’t felt they could stand up to it. I Am A Witness empowers kids to use the new eye emoji and other creative channels to speak up, call out bad behavior, be a friend and put an end to it. This simple act of using an emoji, which is so pervasive in online communications now, was the brain child of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

Through the I Am A Witness campaign, the new emoji will be available on every iPhone with the iOS 9.1 update as well as via a free downloadable app for other devices.

“Creative kids can sometimes fall into the category of unconventional, free spirits. They tend to be one of the segments of population who are vulnerable, because kids who are in any way different are apt to be bullied,” noted Lewnes. “We are supporting the I Am A Witness campaign, and an initiative around creative expression, The Bully Project Mural, to take this issue on—and create real change.”

The Ad Council’s president and CEO Lisa Sherman gives much of the credit to Lewnes, “I don’t think this campaign would have come to fruition if Ann had not been the passionate advocate that she is.

“We are enormously grateful to Adobe and their strong partnership with Goodby Silverstein for taking what was a just a germ of an idea and building it into something that I think is an unprecedented and incredibly powerful collaboration across the industry.”

Campaign partners will be providing significant media exposure and customized content to the campaign through their platforms.

“The Ad Council’s mission is to take on the most important, pressing social issues of the day….and I can’t think of a more important issue than eliminating bullying from the lives of our children,” Sherman says. “We anticipate tremendous, positive results as a result of the I Am A Witness campaign.”