Mekanism rolled out its “It’s On Us” sexual assault awareness PSA campaign for the White House back in September of 2014, with initial efforts featuring appearances by actor Jon Hamm, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
You’d be excused for assuming the campaign had gone the way of the American Health Care Act, but the program continues through the nonprofit Biden Foundation.
For its latest entry, Mekanism created a PSA spot entitled “Autocorrect,” addressing the importance of language to combat rape and sexual assault. It deals with a text conversation, presumably between two college students, discussing one of them attempting to rape a drunk classmate at a party. Language normalizing the event and dismissing the rape is “autocorrected” with words directly addressing the situation for what it is.
The spot’s serious approach is something of a departure in tone from the campaign’s most recent effort, last October’s collaboration with Funny or Die featuring Adam Devine and Biden.
“Autocorrect” continues the focus on the bystander, though, calling on onlookers to be critical of rape culture, recognize when a rape is, or is in danger of, occurring and intervene. In the text exchange, the “drunk chick” being targeted by one of the texting guys is eventually saved by a friend. In the text conversation, meanwhile, the friend is autocorrected from being complicit in rape culture to calling out his classmate, telling him “She wanted you to stop” and calling her intervening friend a “hero,” extending the focus on the bystander to the aftermath of such an event.
A voiceover concludes the spot with the message, “Don’t ignore the subtext, it’s on us to intervene in sexual assault,” and calling on viewers to take the “It’s On Us” pledge.
“This new round is really all about making it super personal to the audience,” Mekanism president and CEO Jason Harris told Adweek. “I think because of where we are in the lifespan of the campaign, we are able to be a little more provocative with this direction and make it a little more personal to the audience because we have this broad awareness.”
“This is one of our most provocative ads, and we really love it,” added Rebecca Kaplan, director of It’s On Us, Civic Nation. “It’s talking about language for the first time and how language really matters. What you say is often indicative of what you do, so this is focusing on language as a means of action.”