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Silver Targeting

The Canadian Safe School Network

"Bully Ads"

(BIMM / Touché)

In Canada, one in three kids experience some form of bullying. It’s higher than the U.S. and one of the highest in the world. But the real problem with bullying today is there’s no escape for the victims. If you’re online, the bullying is always there waiting for you.

Retargeting banner ads already behave like a cyberbully. The same ads relentlessly follow you everywhere you go online, and it feels like there’s no escaping them. So, in a media-first, the Canadian Safe School Network and agency BIMM worked with Touche and AOL to use that same retargeting ads strategy to turn online ads into Bully Ads for key influencers, bloggers and media so they could feel what it’s like to be cyber-bullied firsthand.

By doing this, the organization would break through the clutter and catch the bloggers, influencers and media off guard via its “Bully Ads.” Once the purpose of “Bully Ads” was revealed to them, they would then share their unique experience and amplify the cause online.

The approach was both unconventional and an industry first. The team took mass programmatic ad banners but efficiently put them to work on a one-to-one marketing level. It also circumvented ad banner policies. All banner ads must display their source or brand or company name within the banner. But to punk the target properly, Bully Ads could not. Working with AOL, the network’s banner ads had no source or brand, and no resolve. They simply bullied the target with no explanation – for days on end.

Here’s how it worked: the agency sent e-vites to influencers, bloggers and the press for the Canadian Safe School Network’s anti-bullying event. The email asked the unsuspecting target to click on the unique personalized URL for more event details. Once they clicked, the organization had them. They were now cookied, tracked and had no clue they were about to be cyberbullied. Days later, the target became the victims and would see the “Bully Ads” everywhere they went online. With each passing day, the messages increased in intensity.

The ads came in two waves. First, they were static ads and the bullying was more about physical appearance. For the second wave, the ads would flash on and off like they were yelling, and the messaging itself went a little deeper than just physical. Some of the headlines are the most common examples of bullying online. The “Bully Ads” berated the unsuspecting target for days until finally it was revealed via the anti-bullying event and through a post-event email, or if they actually clicked on the banner ad they were taken to a landing page explaining the campaign.

The network’s cyberbullying experience made quite an impression: there was a 51% email open rate - exceeding global average open rate by 143%. In addition, the campaign generated a 9.6% Banner click-through rate (exceeding global click-through rate by 9,500%) as well as 23 million impressions in a country of 35 million people. Victims saw as many as 60 “Bully Ads” on any given day. Donations increased by 37% from the previous year – exceeding a 10% increase objective by 370%.


Advertiser: Canadian Safe School Network

Agency: BIMM

CCO: Roehl Sanchez

CD: Rene Rouleau

AD: Andrew Yeung

Copywriter: Rene Rouleau

Group Account Director: Angela Lowe

Account Coordinator: Erin Stear

VP Technology: Ralph Reefke

Technical Director: Sukh Gill

Director of Product Innovation: Scott Keeling

Project Management: Shawn Takacs

Sr QA Specialist: Rob Peets

Digital Planner: Allison MacLeod

Jason Barg: Director of Client Insights

Media: Touche Media, AOL Canada

PR: Stephen Rouse

For Ticket Sales
Contact Joel Pinto at 416-408-2300 x650 or jpinto@brunico.com.