Joe Biden Says ‘Fear Is No Excuse’ for Not Confronting Peers About Sexual Assault

'Three Dots' is the latest in Mekanism's ongoing PSA campaign

Biden tells guys it's on them to confront people they know about sexual assault. It's On Us
Headshot of Erik Oster

Mekanism’s latest “It’s On Us” PSA acknowledges that it can be difficult to call out sexual assault—but it’s also crucially important.

“Three Dots” focuses on a group text among friends after a drunken party. “Everyone still with us?” one of the friends asks, to which another replies, “Not sure Mike’s girl is.”

It soon becomes apparent that’s in reference to a girl who was too inebriated to give consent the previous night. The spot focuses on one person who’s struggling to take part in the conversation. While the other members of the group only see three dots, viewers see what he’s typing and deleting: “Dude. Hooking up with that girl was messed up,” “That was sexual assault” and “You guys are part of the problem.”

But he can’t bring himself to send any of the messages, instead settling on an emoji that fails to convey what he’s feeling or the gravity of the situation.

“Sometimes words fail,” the spot concludes, “because the right thing to say is also the hardest.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden then appears, telling viewers, “It’s on you” to confront your peers if you’re aware they’ve sexually assaulted someone.

With the ad, Mekanism is building on last March’s  “Autocorrect,” another ad that centered around a text conversation. While that spot focused on correcting language that trivializes sexual assault, the new effort gains emotional weight by focusing on an individual who appears to have the right words but not the conviction to confront his peers.

The message of the ad is that while such a conversation may be difficult, it’s too important to leave unsaid. As Biden puts it, “Fear is not an excuse.”

“Three Dots” follows a “Three Year Anniversary” spot from September in which Biden delivered an emotional plea after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ decision to rescind Obama administration guidelines on Title IX campus sexual assault policies.The “It’s On Us” campaign began as a White House sexual assault awareness and prevention campaign under in September 2014 and continued under Civic Nation after Obama left office.

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.
Publish date: May 16, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT