This New Ad Council PSA Illustrates the Enduring Power of Kindness

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The thing about childhood trauma is it has a way of latching onto every single one of the senses for years to come. Decades later, a person who was bullied might be able to recall the names they were called during P.E. or the sweater they wore while they were teased in the lunchroom. The smell of a swimming pool, a certain lunch or even a sudden brush of someone’s hand can trigger memories of moments that are especially painful and can harbor lasting, life-shaping effects.

Vivid and all too accessible, bullying leaves an impression. Equally impactful: the moments when a benevolent bystander comes to our defense, or a new friend shields us from harm with a simple hand on the shoulder or a diverting compliment. In the same way that a bad experience can remain with us, so can a kind gesture.

With the assistance of San Francisco-based indie agency TBD, the Ad Council traveled through time with its new public service short film “A Message From the Future,” the latest installment of their “Because of You” campaign.

In a touching display of the enduring power of kindness, teenagers who have experienced bullying took part in a simulation that aged them by 10 years.

“We knew we wanted to age the kids by 10 years in a live, real-time setting to create an emotionally raw experience,” said Anrick Bergman, the film’s director. “To achieve this, we started by scanning data of the teen’s face. Then we digitally changed the shape of a blank face to match their facial features and movements, capturing not just how they look but how they move, talk and their small, unique, behavioral micro signals.”

Set in a classroom, the digitally aged students connect with fellow classmates who stepped in during their time of need, whether they were young heroes who physically removed them from harmful situations or were daily examples of goodwill. Those on the receiving end got to see the way their kind intervention helped their friend thrive as young adults.

What stands out most about this approach is that these messages come from an authentic place, showing that future generations are grasping the effects of our interactions. “It’s so important that the ‘Because of You’ message remains genuine and comes directly from teens themselves,” said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “This new work highlights the impact you can have on someone close to you, without you even realizing it.”

See the behind-the-scenes film below to learn more about the process.


Client: Ad Council

Heidi Arthur, Chief Campaign Development Officer
Sheri Klein, VP, Group Campaign Director
Madeline Miller, Campaign Director
Trevor Lin, Campaign Management Assistant
Julia Blumenstyk, Director, Strategy and Evaluation
Ellyn Fisher, SVP, Marketing and Communications
Shirley Yeung, Director, Marketing and Communications
Sean Williams, Manager, Marketing and Communications
Rebecca Mir, Director, Digital Project Management
Carolina Trevino, Digital Project Manager
Gregory Kelly, Director, Media Strategy
Catherine Yarovoi, Campaign Analyst

Agency: TBD

Rafael Rizuto, Chief Creative Officer
Sara Uhelski, Copywriter
Leila Moussaoui, Art Director
Bruno Menon, Designer
Jordan Warren, CEO
Adrian Dagli, Account Director
Jeff Burger, Engagement Planning Director
Rob Lee, Executive Producer
Salem Weresh, Account Manager

Production Company: Unit9

Anrick Bregman, Director
Michelle Craig, Creative Partner
Luca De Laurentiis, Executive Producer
Mindy Lubert, Head of Production
Sarah Barson, Production Lead
Camilla Rose, Producer
Mel Anderson, 1st Assistant Director
Boyd Hobbs, DP
Joe Wohlmuth, Sound Designer
Lu Ts-Hsing, BTS

VFX: Ingenuity Studios

David Lebensfeld, VFX Supervisor
Kieley Culbertson, VFX Producer
Taos Whittaker, VFX Artist

Post-Production Company: Beast

Bob Spector, Editor
Jeff Bielat, Producer
Blake Bogosian, Editor
Evan Mueller, Assistant Editor
Eric Pascua, Colorist/Flame Artist

Music Production Company: Jamute

James Pinto, Music Producer
Daniel Teles, Music Producer
Alejandro Ramos Lepez, Executive Producer
Julianna Zuppo, Production Coordinator
Cassia Garcia, Production Coordinator

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