Arlington, VA - This month marks the 30th Anniversary of an American pop-culture icon, McGruff the Crime Dog.® In celebration of this landmark, The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and Saatchi & Saatchi New York will unveil a brand new animated short to teach a whole new generation of children how to “Take A Bite Out of Crime”.
McGruff’s mission will be to help children prevent one of the most common issues they face – bullying. Michelle Boykins, Director of Communications and Marketing for the NCPC, points to alarming statistics that inspired the strategy behind the new campaign. “Our research has found that 160,000 kids miss school every day out of fear of being bullied.” Boykins adds, “The recent cases of young people who have tragically ended their lives because they were so badly bullied are yet another painful example that this is a real problem in America.”
“Stop, Talk & Walk” is the essential advice that McGruff doles out to a young girl in the story. The five-minute video follows the story of a young girl who is afraid to go to ballet class, for fear of being bullied. The animated short, “Samantha’s Choice” was written and designed to pay homage to the classic McGruff, while giving him an updated look and feel. This new animated short marks the third generation of children to receive advice from the Crime Dog.
The story borrows the feel of a noir detective drama, lending a serious tone to the issue kids face. “This is a scary thing for kids,” says Manny Galan, who co-directed the spot with Pat Giles, both Creative Directors at Saatchi & Saatchi. “We treated it like something that needs attention from a heroic figure.” McGruff is approached by a distraught mom, Miss Terry, whose daughter Samantha is being bullied. She pleads with McGruff to take her case. McGruff’s nephew Scruff also makes a return, and is given a major makeover. His role is to show kids that standing by and watching others being bullied is not okay either. He helps McGruff figure out Samantha’s problem.
The team made every attempt to avoid being too preachy, and to keep the story interesting for kids. “We knew that if our audience caught us talking down to them, we wouldn’t be effective,” says Adam Kline, who wrote the screenplay. “So while we treated the subject earnestly, we always tried to inject some comedy.”
Working with the Ad Council, Saatchi & Saatchi began their 30-year relationship with the NCPC back in the late 1970s to create McGruff. “We are all really proud to be part of building on his legend,” says Giles. “We had a blast creating the world McGruff lives in, and adding new characters. You even get to see the inside of his office.”
NCPC is distributing this video, complete with accompanying “movie posters,” to young people through its vast network of law enforcement, criminal justice, and community outreach professionals. In addition, NCPC intends to distribute the video to schools this Fall. The animated short and movie posters are part of the NCPC’s “Circle of Respect” program, which aims to help kids learn how to handle conflict by using the concept of respect. In recent research, NCPC found that kids 8 to 17 do not know how to act respectfully and have experienced bullying at one time or another.
To learn more about Circle of Respect and to share the new McGruff video check out www.circleofrespect.org