We’ve seen it before. Well-meaning adults in cause marketing try to shame youth out of digitally sharing sexual pictures — or “sexting” — by reminding them of the grave consequences to their life and reputation. As if they didn’t know!
In this scenario, two boys goof around, and decide to Snapchat one boy’s “willy” to a girl they know. She screencaps and shares it with her friends, and soon the whole school has seen it, as well as adult strangers including a predator. The boy’s life is over.
Yes, it can really work like that. Casual sexting goes viral, attracting the wrong kinds of attention, and the kid’s life is “over” — except in reality, “over” means that the child kills his or herself.
When we set out to create an ad that tries to shock kids out of sexting, we need to consider the unintended consequences of using shame. First off, many people have a natural resistance to shame; they believe it could never happen to them. Second, those who have already made a misjudgement like this, and are currently experiencing great shame, might be pushed over the edge by the victim-blaming tone of this PSA.Another shameful anti-sexting ad. As if they didn’t know! Click To Tweet
Sexting is a complicated issue. But teens are aware of the potential consequences, as they see them in the news constantly (or even participate in public shaming of a peer). We need to provide them with positive anti-sexting training that focusses on self-confidence and judgement rather than dire consequences. And we need to have empathy for kids who have already “let the genie out of the bottle.”
Client: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
Agency: Leo Burnett Change
Copywriter: Alison Steven
Art Director: Liam Bushby
Creative Director: Beri Cheetham
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