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NBA Joins GLSEN and Ad Council as First Professional Sports League to Address Anti-Gay Language Among Teens
May 13, 2011 (02:05 PM EDT)


New TV Spot featuring Phoenix Suns' Grant Hill and Jared Dudley Premieres during NBA Conference Finals

NEW YORK, May 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and the Ad Council joined the National Basketball Association (NBA) to debut a series of public service advertisements (PSA) featuring Phoenix Suns stars Grant Hill and Jared Dudley designed to address the use of anti-gay language among teens. The campaign includes new television, radio, print and Web ads and the TV spot will launch this Sunday during the NBA Conference Finals on ABC, TNT, and ESPN. The PSAs are an extension of the award-winning Think Before You Speak campaign and GLSEN's "Changing the Game" initiative.

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Nearly nine in ten lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens report having been verbally harassed in the past school year, and almost half have been physically harassed based on their sexual orientation, according to GLSEN's 2009 National School Climate Survey. Homophobic remarks such as "that's so gay" are the most commonly heard type of biased remarks at school, and nine in ten LGBT teens say they've heard "gay" used in a negative way frequently or often.  

Created pro bono by ad agency ArnoldNYC, the new PSAs communicate that using words such as "gay" in a negative way has serious consequences. In the TV spot, which was filmed in New York City and Phoenix, a teen says "gay" casually on the basketball court. Hill and Dudley call out that using "gay" when you mean something is "dumb or stupid" is not acceptable and that the teens are "better than that." New radio, print and Web PSAs similarly show how the use of anti-gay language is not acceptable on the basketball court or anywhere else. The new PSAs direct audiences to visit ThinkB4YouSpeak.com to learn how to get involved and take a pledge against using anti-LGBT language.

A 16-year NBA veteran, Grant Hill this past season became the sixth player in NBA history to average at least 13 points per game at 38 years of age or older. Suns forward Jared Dudley appeared in all 82 games for the second consecutive season, averaging a career-high 10.6 points.

"The NBA is honored to work on this important campaign in partnership with GLSEN and the Ad Council," said Kathy Behrens, NBA Executive Vice President of Social Responsibility & Player Programs.  "NBA players like Grant Hill and Jared Dudley know that words are powerful and they understand the impact they can have by encouraging young fans to think before they speak."

The Ad Council is distributing the television PSA to more than 1,600 stations nationwide this week and the ad will air in donated time.  The NBA has committed to support the TV ad across their broadcast partners—ABC, ESPN, and TNT— as well as on NBA TV and NBA.com.  The league will also support the campaign through their social media assets where they connect with more than 11 million fans.

"The NBA has been a tremendous partner from the moment we engaged them last year," said Eliza Byard, GLSEN Executive Director. "The NBA's support helps us start a conversation that hopefully will have a lasting impact with an incredibly engaged audience about the Think Before You Speak campaign's message of respect. Anti-LGBT language is one of the most pervasive forms of harassment in schools, and the casual use of phrases like "that's so gay" contributes to the hostile school climates that LGBT youth face across the country."

GLSEN also recently launched Changing the Game: The GLSEN Sports Project at sports.glsen.org to specifically address anti-LGBT behavior in K-12 sports and physical education and provide resources to support the new wave of the Think Before You Speak campaign.

"While Think Before You Speak has been remarkably successful in terms of raising awareness and influencing attitudes and behaviors, there are still far too many teens that do not realize the serious impact of their words," said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. "With NBA players that teens look up to delivering the message, we will be able to break through and help teens understand that the casual use of this language carries over into more overt harassment and bullying."

According to the Ad Council, high recognition of Think Before You Speak among teens (41% of teens aged 13-16 nationwide reporting that they have seen or heard at least one PSA) has translated into significant shifts in key attitudes and behaviors regarding the use of anti-LGBT slurs like "that's so gay." For instance, findings from an Ad Council survey conducted in 2008 and 2009 of teens suggest that a higher percentage of teens think that people should not say "that's so gay" for any reason (38% in 2009 vs. 28% in 2008) and a higher percentage also report "never" saying "that's so gay" when something is stupid or uncool (28% in 2009 vs. 18% in 2008).  

"We've partnered with GLSEN and the Ad Council on Think Before You Speak for several years, and while we're proud to be able to turn our energy and talent toward changing negative behavior, there is unfortunately a lot more work to be done. This year alone there has been an overwhelming amount of news reporting on the devastating effects that harassment has on gay, lesbian and transgendered youth. The NBA deserves big kudos for stepping up to the plate and being a part of this important dialogue," said John Staffen, Chief Creative Officer, ArnoldNYC.

Previous PSAs for the campaign, which launched in October 2008, similarly featured Hilary Duff and Wanda Sykes asking teens if they "realize what they say" when they use the phrase "that's so gay" to describe something negative. In the second year of the campaign, hard-hitting web-based materials challenged teens to think about the impact their language has on others. One banner ad recalled the story of Carl Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old from Massachusetts who took his life after enduring constant bullying at school. A badge was also created to track the occurrence of common LGBT slurs—in real time—on the popular micro-blogging site Twitter. Additionally, a polling tool was developed for bloggers to easily feature on their sites, which features timely events to encourage thought and discussion on the subject of how anti-gay language is used.

To date, Think Before You Speak, the Ad Council's first-ever LGBT-themed campaign, has received significant PSA placement and media coverage, combining more than $17.6 million worth of media exposure for the campaign's message since its launch in 2008.

About GLSEN

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Established in 1990, GLSEN envisions a world in which every child learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes to creating a more vibrant and diverse community. For information on GLSEN's research, educational resources, public policy advocacy, student organizing programs and educator training initiatives, visit www.glsen.org

About the Ad Council

The Ad Council (www.adcouncil.org) is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies in issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being, environmental preservation and strengthening families.

About the NBA

The NBA, founded in 1946, is a professional sports league and global business that features 30 teams in the United States and Canada.  During the 2010-11 season, NBA games will reach 215 countries and territories in more than 40 languages.  Official NBA rosters currently feature 85 players from 41 countries and territories.  NBA merchandise is sold in more than 125,000 stores in 100 countries on six continents.  NBA.com averages more than 26 million page views per day, with more than 50 percent of the site's visitors coming from outside of North America.  The NBA is the No. 1 U.S. sports league on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, with the most fans, followers, and videos viewed on each, respectively.  Through NBA Cares, the league, its teams and players have donated more than $150 million to charity, completed more than 1.5 million hours of hands-on community service, and created more than 560 places where kids and families can live, learn, or play.  

About Arnold Worldwide

ArnoldNYC is a part of Arnold Worldwide, a global communications company and one of the top five most creatively awarded agencies of the past decade. We are proud to represent a diverse portfolio of clients, including Aetna, Alberto Culver, Amtrak, Carnival Cruise Lines, CVS/pharmacy, Dell, Fidelity Investments, The Hershey Company, Huntington Bank, Lee Jeans, McDonald's, Mederma, Mike's Hard Lemonade Co., New Balance, Ocean Spray, Panasonic, Progressive, Sanofi-Aventis, Titleist, truth®, Tyson, Volvo and many other great brands. Arnold delivers services across all communication touch points – advertising, digital, promotions, direct, design, branded content – and is part of Havas Worldwide with offices in Boston, New York, Washington DC, Toronto, London, Amsterdam, Prague, Milan, Madrid, Moscow, Lisbon, Sydney, São Paulo and Shanghai. www.arnoldworldwide.com.

SOURCE The Ad Council