Back in 2017, Burger King decided to take a stand against bullying. By partnering with NoBully.org, Burger King set up an experiment where a WHOPPER JR and an actual high school Jr was bullied. An experiment that yielded not so surprising results.
Please take a few seconds to watch this ad by Burger King called Take a Stand. Made in conjunction with No Bully Foundation, the ad is a true eye-opener as to how many people actually stand up when witnessing bullying taking place.
According to the official press release, 95% of the real-life customers reported their "bullied burger" which was roughed-up badly upon unwrapping as seen in the video. But, only 12% of customers reported the high school junior who was being bullied right in front of their faces. People were more like to stand up to complain about a mangled burger than stand up for a kid being harassed by his "friends", emotionally and physically. The outcome, though shocking is not really shocking at the same time.
Bullying vs. Cyberbullying
Bullying is defined as any unwanted act of aggressive behaviour due to perceived power imbalance between the bullied and the bully. And this behaviour has a way of manifesting into long term psychological problems for both parties.
Cyberbullying is when this behaviour is projected over the internet to intimate or abuse or heckle or pass comments on others online.
The Problem Magnified
There are over 4,648 millions active internet users as of June 2020. In other words, at present nearly 59.6% of the world's population is online.
Let that those numbers sink in a little. In fact, at any given point of time in the last 5 years, around 27,000 people logged on to the internet for the first time in their life. And a lot of these people are young teens.
According to the Pew Research Center, around 95% of teens are connected to the internet and over 85% of them are social media users. And a lot these young teens are going to experience cyberbullying for the first time in their lives. As sad as that sounds, this is the reality. Cyberbullying is still very much a problem in 2020.
Here are some headline statistics
87% of young people have witnessed cyberbullying online
These numbers have doubled between 2018-2019 in when compared to mid to late 2007 (That’s when social media really picked up, Facebook was launched in 2004, Instagram was founded in 2010, Twitter in 2006 etc.)
Moreover, 17.4% have reported it has happened at some point in 30 days
The future looks bleak unless we do something about it.
By my estimate, the numbers of internet users to going to increase by 5-10% year over year (from 4.7b in 2020 to 4.8b in 2021). Which means out of the total population in the world in 2021 around 62% will be online.
Currently, around 25% of the world's population is under the age of 16 (as of 2019). In a survey conducted by Cyberbullying.org between teenagers aged between 12 and 17, approximately 37% have reported at least one instance of being bullied in their lifetime.
We reckon this number will increase to 39% by 2021, at which point around 400m teens would have faced some kind of cyberbullying attack in their life. This is not okay.
The Mental Toll on Teens
As you can imagine this kind of behaviour affects the mental and emotional stability of these young people. Most notably, it affects their ability to connect emotionally with their family or friends. They become closed and reserved. Other implications include underperforming in schools, developing health problems like migraines and stomach aches, negatively affecting and questioning their self-worth.
But things can get worse. A survey conducted by Ditch the label on mental of teens revealed some startling and troubling statistics.
9% of began abusing alcohol or drugs
25% engaged in self-harm
26% had suicidal thoughts
37% developed mild to serve forms of depression
41% developed social anxiety
What Can We Do? A Conscious Marketer's position
With the increase in technology and the internet, the world has become a smaller place. With access to information at our fingertips, more and more people are becoming increasingly aware of injustice and hardships faced around the world.
As consumers become more aware of the inequality surrounding them, they seek to make differences and they would like to associate with brands that share their concerns or with a brand that is actively trying to help any social justice causes.
As conscious marketers, we must help brands find their calling by helping them rise up to the occasion and take the stand on any social justice cause that they feel deeply for. This can be done by supporting organisations or working closely with NGOs that support anti-bullying causes or any other social justice causes.
We must use our platform as the stage to increase awareness by bringing some of these pressing issues to light. This is the beginning of a reformative change and conscious marketing. This is the true power of cause marketing.
To conclude, don't let bullying go unnoticed. Use your voice and stand up against this violence. We all deserve to live in a judgement-free society based on respect and compassion. Whilst this utopian society may not ever exist we can get close if we just try.
Written by Arjun Manohar & Reetika Swaroop Srivastava