"It gets better" campaign idea hijacked by "Save the children" in Sweden?

Quick rundown of what It Gets Better project is: Billy Lucas was another gay and bullied teen who committed suicide in September last year. Hate messages filled his memorial page. Dan Savage couldn't just sit idly by and watch lonely kids like Billy despair without voices of reason around them, he started the channel It Gets Better. Openly gay adults from all walks of life shared their stories, to show gay teens who couldn't imagine a future for themselves that there is one. There's light at the end of the tunnel. Adobe systems employees showed that it gets better. President Obama tells you it gets better. Even Rudolf Brazda one of the last surviving victims of violent persecution of GLBT people by the Nazi regime, wants you to know it gets better, and you don't argue with a man who survived wearing a pink triangle in a concentration camp.

Pixar decided to call in all gay, bi, trans and other formerly bullied teens they had on staff to let the kids know that not only does it get better, in the future you might even land a dream job just like they did, a clip that surely resonates with the creative and the quirky kids who spend their entire days being picked on for 'being different'. Different is what makes creative products like Pixar films great.

Kleenex warning, around 3:25 "....Someone interrupted me, from jumping off the roof of my dorm." If these peoples stories don't touch you, you're made of stone.

The campaign took of like a rocket when Joel Burns, City Councilman of Fort Worth, Texas held a very emotional speech promising all gay teens that it gets better.

Now Åsiktstorped, a.k.a @Kazarnowicz has noticed that Rädda Barnen (Save the Childrens) and TV3's new campaign/show in Sweden is basically a carbon copy of "It gets better", but it's not about gay teens. They've translated "It gets better" to Swedish "Det blir bättre", and include all and any kids who feel bad in the idea. The format? Adults will look into the TV-camera and tell kids that it gets better.

According to Meter Television, which produces the program, neither Dan Savage or any other of the founders of "It Gets Better" were asked about the Swedish approach. Instead, it's said that they've have talked with Joel Burns, but he is neither founder nor a spokesperson for "It Gets Better Project". I understand that neither TV3, Meter Televison or Save the Children have put any effort into doing research about the campaign they have now stolen. They don't believe that they've done anything wrong either, when no one "owns the rights" to the format.

Rädda barnen defends their project, stating it should be "including not excluding" and see no problem with having "It gets better" include stories from children who suffer from domestic violence at home, children who are declared wardens of the state, and children who are bullied at school in general. Kazarnowicz compares it to creating a show called "Stockholm Pride" based on "the diversity of society", but where nine out of ten programs is not about gay issues, so as not to exclude all heterosexuals from the show. He finds the language "Orweillian" and strongly feels it's not just copying the Dan Savage project to a T, but also missing the point of it.

While Kazarnowicz is kicking up a twitter-shitstorm regarding this nicked concept, I can't help but notice this isn't the first time we've seen something that looks like a translated carbon-copy-cause idea hit our shores.

Greg Grunberg talks about it

Talk About it is a another star-studded web-idea which re-launched in June 2010, where Greg Grunberg and the Epilepsy Foundation want people to spread the word about epilepsy, specifically on twitter with the hashtag #talkaboutit. People don't know what to do when someone has a seizure or how to respond when told that someone has epilepsy, because most people just don’t "Talk About It". The hashtag #talkaboutit was soon filled with tips, personal stories, youtube clips and Hollywood celebrities pushing people to the website where they can share more stories.
When I saw that idea, it reminded me of how our principal at the School of Communication arts, John Gillard, welcomed all students to the school with a photo-copied 'what to do in case of seizure' paper and the words: "I have epilepsy, don't worry I rarely have seizures but if I do this is what to do." I found his frankness quite relieving, and was grateful for it, as I had learned the "what to do" the hard way. When I was eight a classmate had a seizure in Phys. Ed, and us then uninformed eight-year olds surrounding the poor guy panicked, screaming at the top of our lungs freaking each other out to tears, which didn't help the situation at all. My 5-year old has seen Christine Lowe's Grand mal, with me explaining what to do, and what not to do, if she witnesses a friend having a seizure. Information is power, and with epilepsy being rather common, it's something everyone should know - thus #talkaboutit. We've come a long way from the times when there was a stigma attached to this common chronic neurological disorder, back when an epilepsy diagnosis in Sweden would get you forcibly sterilized.

In December 2010 in Sweden Prataomdet launched, where women (and some men too) shared stories about negative sexual experiences that ranged from clear cut criminal offenses, childhood sexual abuse, to gray areas of perceived coercion, condomloss and doing things one might not want to. A lot of stories were printed in the majority of Swedish newspapers and media outlets as well, with the aim to open up a broader discussion of violations of sexual boundaries. "In the very act of talking about them a new definition of rape and consenting sex is formulated" - Or as some presented it, with the aim to stand up for Julian Assanges accusers specifically. The Swedish hashtag on twitter #prataomdet even crashed into the English #talkaboutit at some point which must have confused the people talking about epilepsy.

Now, a simple speech bubble is the first idea you'll get when representing anything with the word "talk" in it, no matter what the language, the Swedish campaign instigators are just as likely to have been blissfully unaware about the US one (and one can argue that since they used the same exact hashtag in English, they probably didn't know about it at all). It just struck me as a funny coincidink, now that I've seen it happen twice.

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

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