October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and social activist and speaker Monica Lewinsky has released her latest campaign, titled #DefyTheName, which enlists a who’s who of celebrity names to show those experiencing bullying that they’re not alone – and in fact part of an incredible community of celebrities, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, artists and others.
Created by BBDO New York, #DefyTheName points a finger at the most common type of bullying behavior – name calling. The PSA features an all-star cast acknowledging the hurtful names they’ve been called while in situations that highlight their success. Notable celebrities include Questlove, Alan Cumming, Andy Cohen, Bill Ritter, Dan Patrick, John Oliver, Lena Dunham, Maysoon Zayid, Olivia Munn, Paula Faris, Sarah Silverman and Tony Hawk.
#DefyTheName encourages those on social media to change their name (not username) to reflect their bullied name and share the campaign’s PSA and their own story. For instance, Lewinsky changed her Twitter name to Monica Chunky Slut Stalker That Woman Lewinsky.
In the video, we see these stars either introducing or being introduced with their bullying name, as Patrick introduces Hawk on his radio show as Tony “Piece of Crap” Hawk, while at a fake awards show, Lena “The Whiny Fat C*nt” Dunham is given an award, and Andy Cohen introduces us to Alan “Useless” Cumming.
The net effect of the campaign is to flood social media with a community that proves that bullying and name-calling don’t reflect one’s real self-worth. It especially sends a powerful message to teens: Don’t let the name define you and instead, #DefyTheName.
“From personal experience I know that one of the most insidious effects of bullying is the feeling of isolation. Especially for vulnerable populations, like our youth, it’s feeling alone and suffering in silence that breaks down confidence, degrades self-worth and leads to even worse consequences,” said Lewinsky.
“On social media, names and words are often used as weapons. By showing the names that well-known and highly accomplished people were once called as kids, we hope to use social media to diffuse the power of those weapons,” added Greg Hahn, chief creative officer of BBDO New York.
“The hurt caused by name calling causes pain that lasts a lifetime,” said Dini von Mueffling, principal of her eponymous PR firm. “#DefyTheName lets everyone know that even their greatest heroes have experienced memorable shame and pain. It’s our honor to help Monica bring this campaign to life, especially at a moment of extraordinary name calling in our country.”
This effort follows the success of Lewinsky’s 2017 anti-bullying PSA ‘In Real Life,’ which was nominated for Outstanding Commercial at this year’s Emmy awards.