Sticking up for friends when they're targeted by bullies can have a long-term positive impact on their lives. Ultimately, such simple acts of kindness and compassion could help create a better tomorrow for us all.
The Ad Council and creative agency TBD deliver this message in the short film below. It contains a heartwarming twist for three teens who've championed and comforted friends harassed by bullies:
Believing they would attend a career counseling session, the subjects instead come face to face with bullied classmates. These friends appear via video monitor, aged 10 years by imaging technology. They deliver a "Message From the Future," thanking their defenders for stepping in, and explaining how such intervention made a difference in their lives.
"Because of you, I can stand tall with confidence," one says.
"Because of you, I'm a way better person," says another.
"Because of you, Isaac, and what you did for me years ago, I grew up to be more independent and love myself and be just a little bit more confident," yet another reveals.
"We wanted this campaign to be an evolution from last year's 'Honest Yearbook,'" TBD co-founder and creative chief Rafael Rizuto tells Muse. "With 'Honest Yearbook,' we showed teens that their words and actions had a big impact in their friends' lives. With 'A Message From the Future'" we wanted to show that everything they say or do has a long-lasting influence. It stays with their friends forever."
Toward that end, the aging idea proves especially poignant. It takes the teens out of the here and now, allowing them—and us—to view empathetic actions in a broader context and consider the implications for all involved.
"What teens are facing now is a general culture of meanness," says Ad Council chief creative development officer Heidi Arthur. "We want teens to walk away from this video and reconsider how what they say and do can help build a kinder and more inclusive culture for themselves and their peers."
The virtual aging process began with creatives scanning the bullied teens' faces onto a digitally generated model, "capturing not just how they look, but how they move, talk, and their small, unique behavioral micro signals," explains Anrick Bergman, the film's director. "By using a TrueDepth camera setup, we allowed them to control their older selves in real-time, to create an honest way for them to pay a heartfelt thank you."
This behind-the-scenes video captures the process in detail:
The film was created under the "Because of You" anti-bullying banner. Corporate partners include Adobe, Hallmark and Johnson & Johnson, in addition to nonprofit partners Be Strong, the Born This Way Foundation, The Bully Project, GLSEN, No Bully, PACER's National Bullying Prevention Center and The Trevor Project. Partners will share the PSA, which will also be spread through donated media.
"It was a very emotional experience for everyone involved," Rizuto says. "Seeing the kids opening up like that and their friends' reactions was something very special. The experience made us immediately reflect on the things we say and do, and the impact we might have on the people around us."
"A Message From The Future"
Client: Ad Council
Heidi Arthur, Chief Campaign Development Officer
Sheri Klein, VP, Group Campaign Director
Madeline Miller, Campaign Director
Trevor Lin, Campaign Management Assistant
Julia Blumenstyk, Director, Strategy and Evaluation
Ellyn Fisher, SVP, Marketing and Communications
Shirley Yeung, Director, Marketing and Communications
Sean Williams, Manager, Marketing and Communications
Rebecca Mir, Director, Digital Project Management
Carolina Trevino, Digital Project Manager
Gregory Kelly, Director, Media Strategy
Catherine Yarovoi, Campaign Analyst
Rafael Rizuto, Chief Creative Officer
Sara Uhelski, Copywriter
Leila Moussaoui, Art Director
Bruno Menon, Designer
Jordan Warren, CEO
Adrian Dagli, Account Director
Jeff Burger, Engagement Planning Director
Rob Lee, Executive Producer
Salem Weresh, Account Manager
Production Company: Unit9
Anrick Bregman, Director
Michelle Craig, Creative Partner
Luca De Laurentiis, Executive Producer
Mindy Lubert, Head of Production
Sarah Barson, Production Lead
Camilla Rose, Producer
Mel Anderson, 1st Assistant Director
Boyd Hobbs, DP
Joe Wohlmuth, Sound Designer
Lu Ts-Hsing, BTS
VFX: Ingenuity Studios
David Lebensfeld, VFX Supervisor
Kieley Culbertson, VFX Producer
Taos Whittaker, VFX Artist
Post-Production Company: Beast