This year’s most powerful anti-bullying PSA ad is from Burger King, of all brands. Shot in-store, it’s timed for National Bullying Prevention Month. Via Adweek:
You’d think the idea of bullying a Whopper Jr. would be too goofy to work, but in the end, it does work—more memorably, in fact, than many other anti-bullying ads. It vividly demonstrates a sad truth about bullying—that bystanders would often rather not get involved. And it does so in the starkest terms, by showing how vastly more people are likely to care—or do something—about a $2 sandwich than about a fellow human’s predicament. This probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it’s depressing nonetheless to witness. (The bystander theme is one that played out in somewhat similar fashion in last week’s cyberbullying PSA from BBDO and Monica Lewinsky.)
That bleakness of the BK ad is eclipsed at the end, though, by a dose of optimism that feels quite inspirational—a neat trick for an ad that’s just presented you some seriously discouraging statistics. The bystanders who do step in quickly become the heroes. Hopefully, their actions will help make a difference in how other people react when they see bullying—not just adults but the teen peers who hold so much of the power to stop it.
As social-purpose advertising goes, it’s also incredibly well branded. The stunt takes place in a BK store, and is centered squarely around one of the menu items. That’s some clever product integration in a spot designed to do a lot more than sell.
The spot also fits the BK brand seamlessly, both in terms of its advertising history and its recent purpose-based marketing efforts. This is a brand that’s used hidden cameras a number of times (most famously with the Whopper Freakout) and also, more recently, supported lots of social causes via campaigns like Proud Whopper and Whopper Sign. It’s also tackled bullying before, in this Argentinian ad from last spring.