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SAY Shines a Literal Spotlight on Kids Who Stutter in Powerful New PSA

Spot from BBDO New York portrays the emotional weight of young people living with a stutter for the Stuttering Association for the Young

SAY Shines a Literal Spotlight on Kids Who Stutter in Powerful New PSA

For the over 70 million people who stutter, every conversation can feel like speaking in front of a crowd: all eyes on you as you know what to say but cannot seem to get the words out fast enough. In the Spotlight, a powerful PSA from the Stuttering Association for the Young (SAY) and BBDO, portrays the emotional weight of young people living with a stutter to ignite a conversation and bring awareness to this common yet stigmatized speech disorder. With the incredible challenges faced by kids who stutter after a year of home learning, In the Spotlight educates viewers on how to treat their peers who stutter, stressing empathy and patience, ahead of the upcoming school year.

“Too often we hear people speak about stuttering in a negative light,” says Noah Cornman, Executive Director of SAY. “There’s a common misconception that people stutter because they are nervous, when in reality, they might be nervous out of fear for how the public will react to their stutter. We are thrilled to work with BBDO on this impactful PSA and hope to start shifting the conversation and the way we interact with people who stutter.”

Stuttering is common, yet young people are often taught that it is something they should be ashamed of or fix. In the Spotlight changes the narrative around youth who stutter by featuring real members of the SAY community in public speaking scenarios. But instead of giving a presentation or belting into song, they deliver speech from everyday interactions--such as asking for a job application or ordering food at a restaurant. This helps viewers understand what ordinary conversations can feel like for youth who stutter, where finishing one sentence can sometimes take as much courage as public speaking. It also tells them to give young people who stutter time to share their voices, as every voice deserves to be heard and respected. 

BBDO NY was inspired to partner with SAY to produce In the Spotlight after their own Junior Copywriter Aaron Marshall shared his experience of growing up with a stutter and brought attention to the struggles that kids who stutter face. Young people who stutter can get discouraged to speak up and often purposely stay quiet out of fear of others' reactions to how they speak, even when they know the answer, and have so much to offer and share. In Marshall’s experience, there were times he would order something at a restaurant that he did not want, just to avoid stuttering. He believes this PSA will shift the narrative from fixing stutters to accepting and celebrating all voices, so that a child never has to compromise again.

For 20 years, SAY has empowered kids to own their voice and teach them that there is nothing wrong with the way they speak. SAY’s leadership team works year-round to provide kids with access to arts programs, speech therapy, and summer camp, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. The annual 2-week, sleep away camp builds a community of acceptance, friendship, and encouragement where young people who stutter can develop the confidence and communication skills they need to thrive. To learn more about SAY, their programs, and how to support, visit SAY.org.

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SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young

Noah Cornman: Executive Director

Travis Robertson: VP of Programming

Kristina Ferlich: Director of Marketing

Isabella Love: SAY member

Kumari Birusingh: SAY member

Kaylee Kolka: SAY member

Gavin Pelletier: SAY member

Creative Agency: BBDO, New York

Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars

VP Creative Director: Lance Vining

VP Creative Director: Gary Toit

Copywriter: Aaron Marshall

Producer: Whitney Husnik

Music Producer: Julia Millison

Director of Business Development: Olivia Dames

EVP Senior Director: Sascha Uzzell

Strategy Director: Dexter Blumenthal

Strategist: Isabel Rendon

Influencer Lead: Lucy Bennett

Director of Digital Analytics: Chris Daniele

Business Manager: Grace Kelley

PR Agency: Dini von Mueffling Communications

Founder & CEO: Dini von Mueffling

Publicist: Brittany Gbur

Senior Account Executive: Rajasri Narasimhan

Ryan Cullum: Intern

Kate Riccardelli: Intern

Miranda Fayne: Intern

Production Company: Hungry Man

Director: Alex Gorosh

Producer: Sherra Fermino

Executive Producers: Caleb Dewart, Mino Jarjoura, Dan Duffy, Meredith Bergman

Director of Photography: Eric Ulbrich

Production Designer: Paul McConnell

VFX & Color: The Mill

Managing Director: Anastasia Von Rahl

Senior Producer: Warwick Hewett

Production Coordinator: Mike Cimino

Creative Director & Shoot Supervisor: John Leonti

2D Lead Artist: Chris “Badger” Knight

3D Lead Artist: Freddy Parra

2D Artist: Stephen Paragone

3D Artist: Lalida Karnjanasirirat, Amit Patil, C Dinesh Reddy, Anthony Ignatius Dsouza

Production Support: Vinamra Ramniranjan Bhartia, Utkarsha Chittaranjan Wairkar

Colourist: Paul Yacono

Senior Colour Producer: Denise Brown

Production Coordinator, Colour: Lindsey Orlando

Colour Assists: Gemma Parr, Logan Highlen

Post Production: Lime Studios

Audio Mixer: Zac Fisher

Audio Assistant: Michael Baran

Senior Producer: Kayla Phunnglan

Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan

Music: Walker

Associate Producer: Jendayi Bonds

Composer: Chris Keyes

Category: Charity , Corporate, Social and PSAs

Genre: Storytelling