The Foul-Mouthed Parrots in This New PSA Are No Laughing Matter

Grey used undoctored found footage for the spot

Headshot of Tim Nudd

At first glance, the absurdity of the obscenity-spewing parrots in the video below might prompt you to chuckle. Until you step back and think about how the birds learned those words.

Grey New York created the spot, which features undoctored found footage of real parrots uttering curse words and other derogatory phrases. It’s borderline comical, until the onscreen text brings the spot to a sobering conclusion.

“If a parrot can remember what happens in an abusive home, imagine a child,” says the copy, before giving some stark statistics about violence against children.

The PSA was released in tandem with Unicef’s new global report on violence against children, which reveals that one in four young children across the world are exposed to domestic violence at home.

“The harm inflicted on children around the world does tremendous damage,” Unicef chief of child protection Cornelius Williams said in a statement. “Babies slapped in the face; girls and boys forced into sexual acts; adolescents murdered in their communities—violence against children knows no boundaries.”

Below is more data from Unicef.

Violence against young children in their homes:

• Three-quarters of the world’s 2- to 4-year-old children—around 300 million—experience psychological aggression and/or physical punishment by their caregivers at home;
• Around 6 in 10 one year olds in 30 countries with available data are subjected to violent discipline on a regular basis. Nearly a quarter of one-year-olds are physically shaken as punishment and nearly 1 in 10 are hit or slapped on the face, head or ears.
• Worldwide, 1 in 4 children under age five—176 million—are living with a mother who is a victim of intimate partner violence.

Sexual violence against girls and boys:

• Worldwide, around 15 million adolescent girls aged 15 to 19 have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forced sexual acts in their lifetime.
• Only 1 per cent of adolescent girls who had experienced sexual violence said they reached out for professional help.
• In the 28 countries with data, 90 per cent of adolescent girls who had experienced forced sex, on average, said the perpetrator of the first incident was known to them. Data from six countries reveals friends, classmates and partners were among the most frequently cited perpetrators of sexual violence against adolescent boys.

Violent deaths among adolescents:

• Globally, every 7 minutes an adolescent is killed by an act of violence.
• In the United States, adolescent boys from African American or black non-Hispanic populations are almost 19 times more likely to be murdered than non-Hispanic white adolescent boys.
• Latin America and the Caribbean is the only region where adolescent homicide rates have increased; nearly half of all homicides among adolescents globally occurred in this region in 2015.

Violence in schools:

• Half the population of school-age children—732 million—live in countries where corporal punishment at school is not fully prohibited.
• Three-quarters of documented school shootings that have taken place over the past 25 years in non-conflict countries occurred in the United States.

Unicef recommends the following actions:

• Adopting well-coordinated national action plans to end violence against children—incorporating education, social welfare, justice and health systems, as well as communities and children themselves.
• Changing behaviors of adults and addressing factors that contribute to violence against children, including economic and social inequities, social and cultural norms that condone violence, inadequate policies and legislation, insufficient services for victims, and limited investments in effective systems to prevent and respond to violence.
• Focussing national policies on minimizing violent behavior, reducing inequalities, and limiting access to firearms and other weapons.
• Building social service systems and training social workers to provide referrals, counseling and therapeutic services for children who have experienced violence.
• Educating children, parents, teachers, and community members to recognize violence in all its many forms and empowering them to speak out and report violence safely.
• Collecting better disaggregated data on violence against children and tracking progress through robust monitoring and evaluation.

Client: Unicef
Priyanka Pruthi: Senior Producer
Spot Title: Cursing Parrots
Creative Agency: Grey New York
Worldwide Chief Creative Officer: John Patroulis
Deputy Chief Creative Officer: Rob Lenois
Deputy Chief Creative Officer: Jeff Stamp
Group Creative Director: Marco Pupo
Group Creative Director: João Coutinho
Creative Director/ AD: Leo Barbosa
Creative Director/ Writer: Cuanan Cronwright
SVP Account Director: Liz Gilchrist
Production Agency: Townhouse
Townhouse Head of Integrated Production: James McPherson
Townhouse Exec. Integrated Producer Jan Zislin
Townhouse Integrated Producer : Ranelle Fowler
Townhouse Audio Engineer: Matt Baker
Production Company NYC: Catch and Release
Content Producer: Ross Dabrow
Chief of Content: Greg Sylvester
Head of Clearances & Acquisitions: Brent Lovell
Senior Clearance Lead: Kelli Cline
Clearance Specialists: Zoe Ani, Jordan Vail
Curation Director: Liz Mandeville

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.