DUBAI: A Dubai-based advertising agency has come up with a sweet way to counter cyberbullying, by sending victims of it a “chocapology.”
According to agency MullenLowe MENA, 80 percent of people have encountered hate speech online and 40 percent have felt attacked or threatened on social media.
So executives from the firm got together with Karim Bourgi, a chef and founder of the Kayu dessert shop, to create a promotional campaign titled “Chocapologies — on Behalf of the Internet.”
“We chose a master chocolatier and an influencer chef who understands what it’s like to be cyberbullied or trolled. He has about half a million followers and has been trolled just like anyone else who is a public figure,” Prerna Mehra, creative director and head of design at MullenLowe MENA, told Arab News.
The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the effects of body shaming, hate speech and cyberbullying by sending victims uniquely designed chocolates.
Mehra said the agency chose chocolate because it is “the finest creation of humankind,” adding that it contained chemicals such as endorphins and tryptophan that promote a happier mood and reduce stress.
The sugarcoated apologies were sent to celebrities, influencers, gamers and others who have been victims of trolling. In return, the recipients shared their stories on their social media profiles to raise awareness and encourage people to #SugarcoatIt.
Mehra said the agency was concerned the campaign might be seen as making light of the problem but the response was overwhelmingly positive.
“We got a few trolls doing what they do best but the amount of love and positivity this campaign has generated is far more,” she said.
To date the campaign has had 261 million views on social media platforms around the world and been shared by more than 70 influencers.
“People are loving the campaign. They are sharing their stories and asking for chocolates to raise awareness in their own little ways so they can contribute to making the internet a sweeter place,” Mehra said.
She added that the agency was “hoping that the biggies like the TikTok and the Metas of the world take notice and introduce stricter ways to moderate content.”
Although the chocolates are not commercially available at the moment, several pastry chefs and dessert stores have contacted the agency and offered to make them more accessible.
Mehra said that with Bourgi’s approval “we may give the molds out to different stores who can then provide chocapologies on behalf of the internet and further help in making the internet a sweeter place.”