A recent submission made by the Dunedin Social Services Council and Community Law Centre said that as many as nine out of ten teenage girls in counselling had been encouraged to end their lives via social media. Add to this the fact that New Zealand still grapples with a disproportionately high suicide rate among young people, and it becomes evident why the Mad Butcher has decided to back a new anti-bullying campaign that was launched by Pead PR.
From now until 23 May, high schools around the country nominated by the Mad Butcher will produce two-minute anti-bullying videos, which will then be posted to the company’s Facebook page.
Once the videos have been created, a panel of judges—comprised by Seven Days star Dai Henwood, TV star Kimberley Crossman and multi-talented Taika Waititi—will select the winning school, which will then receive a cash prize of $2000 and a Mad Butcher sausage sizzle.
In addition to attracting the support of the famous judges, the campaign has also received backing from several other celebrities, including Sir Peter Leitch (the Mad Butcher), boxer Shane Cameron, the Vodafone Warriors, John Callen of The Hobbit as well as Zac Taylor and Andrew Papas from Titanium.
A release from the Mad Butcher says the campaign resonated strongly with Leitch, who as a sufferer of dyslexia suffered painful ridicule when he was younger.
"The Mad Butcher knows what it’s like to be bullied; we’ve experienced it at a corporate level for many years. As a small, independent retailer we are frequently embattled by the supermarket chains. We’ve simply become tired of being pushed around and wanted to send a strong, clear message that bullying is wrong - whether it’s in business or on the playground," says Mad Butcher chief executive Michael Morton.
A promotional video launched as part of the social media campaign features Leitch, Taylor and Papas sharing their thoughts on bullying and providing advice on why people should stand up for the victims.
Titanium’s participation in the campaign doesn’t end there, because the boy band will also be performing an exclusive gig at the winning school.
And given that the six-piece group has such a strong following among the youth, this move could prove helpful in delivering the message to the target market of schoolchildren.
According to a 2013 investigation into bullying conducted by Victoria University of Wellington, 94 percent of teachers surveyed indicated bullying occurred at their respective schools, with over 30 percent saying that the inter-student abuse became physical at least once every four weeks.
Despite these statistics, some online commentators continue to spread the narrative that bullying is simply part of life, and Morton says that this complacency is something the Mad Butcher is trying to challenge with the campaign.
“No kid should have to go to school feeling afraid or threatened. This campaign is about supporting and educating all kids involved in bullying and to promote a safer, more secure environment. We believe it’s important for everyone in the community to take a stand against bullying and we hope the videos the kids come up with will help educate others about the effects and what they can do to help prevent it happening in their schools.” says Morton.
In order to speak directly to the youth, the campaign has been activated through twitter via #beefwithbullies.
"The #BeefWithBullies campaign was very much a collaborative effort between the team at the Mad Butcher and our PR team at Pead PR," says Morton. "We wanted a creative and meaningful way to talk about the issue of bullying – it’s something we had experienced at a corporate level and we wanted a new way to tackle this issue and actually make a difference in the communities where our stores are."
The choice of video creation for the competition was also not a random decision. The Victoria University of Wellington study also indicated that video was one of the most infrequently used mediums to dissuade students from engaging in bullying. So in a sense this campaign aims to fill a lacuna that currently exists in the anti-bullying narrative.