The Deconstructed Brief
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Bullying Jr.

Bullying Jr.

Brand: Burger King
Agency: David Miami

Challenge

Over 3.2 million students are the victims of bullying each year, according to the National Association of School Psychologists. An estimated 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying.

How do you make a dent in a social issue that seems so widespread? And how can a fast-food burger chain help?

One Thought:

It’s easier to do nothing.

Rationale:

Call out the bystanders, not the bullies. Burger King created a social experiment where it mistreated both a high school junior and a Whooper Jr. to see which one generated more complaints. Cameras were running as students were verbally abused and physically picked on in plain sight of real Burger King customers. At the same time, burgers were smashed and delivered to diners.

The result? Ninety-five percent of customers reported the bullied Whopper, while only 12 percent stood up for the high school students. This is a sobering reminder of how people refuse to step up to bullies. We may not be able to change the behavior of bullies, but we can do more to stop them.

The powerful spot rolled out during National Bullying Prevention Month and quickly generated tons of news articles and mentions on social media, including a tweet from Kim Kardashian. Some schools are now using the spot to educate students. “Bullying Jr.” was named one of the 10 best ads of 2017 by Adweek.

What they told Adweek

“We know that bullying takes on many forms — physical, verbal, relational and online. But the first step to putting an end to bullying is to take a stand against it,” said Nicholas Carlisle, CEO and founder of No Bully. “Our partnership with Burger King is an example of how brands can bring positive awareness to important issues. You have to start somewhere, and they chose to start within.”

Lessons to be learned:

  • Leave them feeling good — Too much social cause marketing leaves the audience with a sense of helplessness. Here, the video ends with a series of customers stepping up and doing the right thing. Several adults approached the bullied teens and offered to sit with them or tell off their aggressors. This shows the type of behavior people should model to help stop bullying.
  • Partner up — Burger King made a smart choice to partner with the resource and advocacy group, No Bully. The partnership gave the spots a sense of legitimacy and higher purpose.
  • Don’t forget the brand — Many consumers expect brands to support social causes, but Burger King didn’t create this spot just out of the goodness of its heart. The video makes smart use of the store environment and pulls through a single product to support brand awareness. No one will miss that Burger King was behind this spot.
  • Lean in to what makes the brand unique — Burger King has a tradition of making a splash with hidden camera stunts. You may remember when it took Whoppers off the menu in 2007. These kinds of stunts set the brand apart from more traditionally polished competitors like McDonald’s.