Anti-bullying ads are great—unless you botch the messaging like VH1 did in a recent spot by Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi in Argentina.
Titled “I Will Survive,” the clip is set to the Gloria Gaynor disco classic with so-called nerds singing in a Glee-like fashion to modified lyrics as they are humiliated by their slimmer, better-looking peers for a minute and 11 seconds. What allows these victims to deal with the abuse, as the song implies, is that one day they'll get their revenge as the bosses of these horrible people who tormented them in their youth.
The video is meant to be humorous and empowering for those who grow up as the butt of mean kids' jokes, but its good intentions are quickly overshadowed by the dark undertones of revenge. The Revenge of the Nerds concept isn't new, but times have changed since that 1984 film, and in lieu of recent random violence that's sweeping the nation in seemingly safe places from school classrooms to movie theaters, it's easy to see why this ad may leave you feeling uneasy.
“Ads like this promote an acceptance of this cycle. Pretty kids will bully, nerds will take it and prevail. That's the way the economy works right now,” says Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., an L.A.-based licensed clinical psychologist. “The world is getting meaner and meaner every single day. The meaner you are, the bigger the platform and more airtime you get—or at least that's what we're teaching our kids,” says Durvasula, who admits to being bullied in high school.
“I get that the fantasy keeps us going, but this ad isn't here to help you other than tell you to bide your time until you get yours,” she says.
A better approach, according to Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of A Happy You, might have been to focus on how to overcome these challenges. Maybe next time they can call on superstars who were also harrassed as kids, like Michael Phelps, Justin Timberlake, and Sandra Bullock, to share their hopeful advice. Here's to hoping they're not treating their employees like “shoe-shining slaves” as the video recommends.
Scroll down to see the ad and then tell us: What do you think of it? Does it make a good point or completely miss the mark? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @Shape_Magazine!