Vodafone says brands must ‘take responsibility’ as it uses Snapchat for anti-bullying campaign

Vodafone has partnered with Snapchat and Monica Lewinsky for ‘anti-bullying week’ as it offers users on the platform unique emojis that feature the slogan ‘Stand Up to Bullying’ and its hashtag #bestrong.

The anti-bullying emojis, which were developed in collaboration with anti-bullying ambassador Monica Lewinsky, will appear on Snapchat as geofilter photo overlays.

The Vodafone Foundation, meanwhile, has also pledged to donate £1 per retweet or like of the #BeStrong emojis hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.

Vodafone’s head of consumer policy Lisa Felton told Marketing Week: “Around 84% of our UK instant messaging traffic comes from Snapchat – that’s more than WhatsApp and iMessage combined – so we this as a real opportunity to spread a positive social message to teenagers.”

She says that Vodafone is also having “serious discussions” about putting the emojis onto Twitter and Facebook as well.

Having a strong social message

Over recent years, Vodafone UK has aimed to spread awareness of the dangers around teenagers having access to smartphones.

It distributes 3.5 million copies of its Digital Parenting magazine to schools and government bodies while its parent guardian app, which gives parents the ability to protect children from adult content on their mobile phones, has been download 800,00 times and is available in 23 markets.

Felton believes that more social media brands must take responsibility and be held accountable if online bullying is to end.

“To a certain extent we have less ability to help out as we’re not providing the social media platforms and they have their own reporting mechanisms,” she adds. “But both mature and younger social media companies need to take responsibility more seriously.

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Snapchat users can choose the geofilter photo overlays (above) to promote Vodafone’s anti-bullying message

She believes brands can use a platform such as Snapchat for more than just advertising. “Snapchat is the most popular platform among teens in the UK so there is a great opportunity for brands to spread positive messages.”

At the Festival of Marketing last week, Lewinsky denounced the online bullying culture and its link to advertising.

“The more shame, the more clicks – the more clicks, the more advertising dollars,” she said during her presentation on the Headline stage. “The more advertising dollars [results in] more of what sells – shame. I think we can all agree that boundaries must exist where profit halts and social responsibility kicks in.”

Yet despite Lewinsky’s controversial stance, Felton insists Vodafone shares a lot of her beliefs.

Felton concludes: “What we are seeing is concerns around teens spending a lot of time on their phones and the need for more peer-to-peer support; that is where we align with Monica.

“This is an area where we need to combine a response from not only teenagers but marketers, brands, schools and the people in power. Everybody must work together to change the culture Monica refers to.”

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