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STORY’s John Komnenich Helps Secret Show It’s Cool to be Kind

Teenage girls talk about their experience in bullying classmates, and ask for forgiveness, in a series of web videos directed by


’s John Komnenich for Leo Burnett, Chicago, and Procter & Gamble’s Secret brand. The videos appeared on the web earlier this year as part of Secret’s

“Mean Stinks”

campaign aimed at ending “girl-to-girl meanness,” and making it cool to be nice.

In each of the videos, a girl, pictured against a simple white backdrop, talks into the camera as if she were speaking to a girl she wronged in high school. In one, a girl acknowledges spreading rumors that ruined a friend’s reputation. In another, a girl apologizes for standing by and doing nothing when a bully cut a friend’s hair and taped to a locker. Each of the videos directs viewers to a Mean Stinks Facebook page where they can share their own experiences with bullying.
The girls featured in the videos are all real people and the stories they tell are true. Chicago-based Paskal Rudnicke Casting conducted an extensive search for appropriate subjects, including visiting local high schools and posting notices on Craig’s List. They eventually found more than 100 subjects from which 20 were chosen to take part in on-camera interviews.
Komnenich said that the production was kept as simple as possible. “They were like home videos,” says Komnenich. “We used a wide lens to get in close to the girls. I sat behind the camera ansd interviewed them.”
Komnenich’s aim was to get the girls to forget they were being recorded and open up. “You get to know them a bit and let them know you care,” he recalls. “Then, you slowly get into it. Somewhere along the way you feel a chink in their vulnerability. It was really about getting to the core—when the emotion came out, you could feel it in the room.”


is represented is represented on the East Coast by Laura Zinn (212) 741-0909; in the Midwest by Dawn Ratcliffe (312) 491-9194, in the Southeast by Miller Associates, (954) 563-6004; in the Southwest by Gossip!, (214) 288-2813 and on the West Coast by Kelley Class, (310) 823-9808.

Title: Mean Stinks (Brittany, Emma, Grace, Sydney)
Client: Procter & Gamble (Secret)
Agency: Leo Burnett, Chicago. Becky Swanson, Executive Vice President/Executive Creative Director; AJ Hassan, Vice President/Creative Director; Yumi Minamikurosawa, Associate Creative Director; David Moore, Senior Vice President/Executive Producer; Laurie Gustafson, Senior Producer; Sarah Bogaczyk, Account Director; Caitlin Weinsten, Account Executive
Production: STORY, Chicago. Mark Androw and Cliff Grant, executive producers; John Komnenich, director; Mary Langenfield, head of production.