Emojis seem innocent enough. But the Cybersmile Foundation recognizes that they are also one of the many ways kids can hide how they’re feeling online, masking visual and tonal cues.

Online conversations can have real-life consequences. This campaign builds on the need to educate the public that cyberbullying is real and needs to be addressed in a hard-hitting, effective way.

The pro bono effort targets high-school students in New York City, the 14-to-18-year-old crowd known for heavy social media use. It’s built on research showing that about 34% of kids in the target group have already experienced cyberbullying. And 17% say they’ve been cyberbullied in the last month. Those who have felt its sting say it zaps their ability to learn and feel safe. And they acknowledge that bullying over text is becoming more common.

To get kids’ attention, the organization worked with photographer Ale Burset to bring a symbolic representation of the harsh reality of cyberbullying to life. Using provocative visuals that turn emojis on their head shows a more accurate reflection of the intense emotions people feel when someone is unkind to them.

The campaign resulted in 2 million impressions that drove a 61% increase in social engagement and 80% increase in web traffic to Cybersmile’s social media channels.

Our judges love every bit of craft involved in the effort, from the photography to the makeup to the type design. “This is scary and eye-opening,” one says. “And it resonates with kids who are living with this every day.”