Tragedy struck the Buffalo community in September 2011 when a young male teen committed suicide because he was bullied for being gay. This awful event reached national news outlets and shined a light on the bullying epidemic that continues to plague schools throughout the U.S.
As an influential organization in the community, the Buffalo Bills wanted to contribute to the anti-bullying cause and create a public service announcement (PSA) that would raise awareness about bullying, encourage those who spot bullying to report it immediately, and encourage those who are being bullied to promptly report the abuse to the proper authorities to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.
The Buffalo Bills reached out to Martino Flynn to help edit the PSA, which starred wide receiver David Nelson and tight end Scott Chandler; two recognizable and popular players within the Buffalo community. The 30-second PSA aired on the Buffalo ABC-affiliate station, WKBW, for the remainder of the football season. It was also played in Ralph Wilson Stadium during Bills home games in front of sellout crowds of 73,000 fans for each game.
One of the challenges that routinely comes up in a project such as this is that there is an immense amount of sensitivity around the topic because of recent events; in this case, the tragic and senseless death of a frequently bullied teenager. The Bills were careful to make sure that the focus was removed from the organization and put entirely on the cause: Bullying is wrong, harmful, needs to be stopped, and it’s up to everyone to put a stop to it.
Bullying is an issue that can affect everyone, and the Bills worked to emphasize the message in the PSA by partnering with the National Federation of Just Communities of Western New York. The Bills players also got out in the community by visiting local schools and speaking with kids directly on what they can do to put a stop to bullying.
We are proud of the Buffalo Bills for being vocal and active in the fight against bullying.
The finished spot earned Martino Flynn and the Buffalo Bills a 2012 PRism Award in the PSA category from the PRSA Rochester Chapter. You can view it below: