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Agency Iceberg

Agencies working for Social Good

To what extent do agencies have a responsibility in combating social issues? Agencies have such creative talent sitting in their offices that it’s unsurprising a great spark of an idea such as online cyberbullying tool Reword was conjured by a team at Leo Burnett. The software was launched last March as a non revenue generating project by the agency.


Think of it as a spellchecker for bullying which prompts you from writing abusive language online. Created in partnership with headspace, a red line crosses out abusive language when typed and the user is prompted with a self regulating message. It’s as simple as that. We spoke with Suzi Williamson, the Senior Account Manager of this fluid team of agency folk who slogged away after full days of their normal work in order to make Reword. This effective online tool has now been introduced to over 260 Australian schools.


Why this agency is working for free

Around 463,000 young people are bullied online in Australia online each year to the point where some victims have engaged in self harm and suicidal ideation. Chief Creative Officer Jason Williams himself was spurred by thinking, “How can I stop my own kids from getting cyberbullied and conversely, stop them from being bullies themselves?”


With support from the top down, the Reword team spent a year working on developing this online tool without any client support or business interest. They saw it as a chance to utilise their creativity and resources for social good – and that is what drove them.


What does this mean for agencies doing social good in the future?

Could agencies dedicate a Friday of each month to doing social good and coming up with new ideas to help the world? “I’m sure different agencies see the challenges of linking innovation to ‘social good’ differently. We don’t see innovation as a siloed skill; it’s part of how we approach all our creative thinking – regardless of whether it’s a commercial issue or a social one”, said Suzi.


The whole lexicon of the Reword tool isn’t purely youth oriented, it spans our whole vocabulary and helps regulate the behaviour of youth and adults alike. It has the potential to change the way we converse and interact with each other online both in and out of the workplace.


The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

Agencies working together and internally for social good has proven to have a self-editing effect when it comes to collaborating and volunteering their time for the greater good. Each person part of the Reword team has been there for the right reasons, creating a project that has grown larger than they expected, with the Reword Google Chrome extension being downloaded in places like Brazil and Belgium, where teachers have requested to have it translated into their local languages.


The team at Leo Burnett saw that while there were many comms campaigns designed to fight cyberbullying, they had limited effect. Will we be seeing more agencies and corporations do the same? We’d love to see more of this creative, all for one approach.


Download the free online tool here: Reword.

Connect with Suzi Williamson here.