The Best Work You May Never See: JOAN London, Director Eliza McNitt Capture "Modern Witch Trials" For The Cybersmile Foundation


Robert Goldrich
Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024


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JOAN London has created an advertising campaign for The Cybersmile Foundation to combat the growing threat of cyberbullying and online abuse. The “Modern Witch Trials” campaign, which includes this short film directed by Eliza McNitt of production house Chromista, aims to raise awareness of online harassment and spark a conversation about finding kinder ways to address problematic behavior online.

Drawing parallels with the Salem Witch Trials, which began 332 years ago this month, the film concludes with the central message that “Mob Justice Isn’t New. It Just Got a Tech Upgrade,” directing people to The Cybersmile Foundation website for information on how to engage more productively online.

The campaign builds on the idea that cyberbullying and social media retribution are becoming more widespread, both for celebrities and those who are not in the public eye. It stresses how online harassment can affect anyone with a social media presence and that it is critical to not only highlight this increasingly prevalent issue but also start the dialogue about how we can build a more compassionate digital community.

The film has been released across all of Pearl & Dean’s U.K. cinemas, as well as on social media.

Tom Ghiden, managing director at JOAN London, said, “The anonymity of our online lives and ease of response, combined with the desire to be seen as empathetic and socially conscious, has resulted in increasing mob behavior online. People being targeted may have made poor decisions, or behaved problematically, but this creative is designed to make people question whether vicious retribution is warranted, or if there are more productive ways to drive evolution.”

Director McNitt added, “I was deeply inspired by JOAN London’s bold vision in tackling this campaign for CyberSmile. As collaborators, I admired the trust they invested in all the artists who brought this to life to create an abstract and experimental visual world that captures the unnerving feeling of mob justice in the dark corners of the internet.”


Client The Cybersmile Foundation Agency JOAN London Kirsty Hathaway, executive creative director; Fiona White, copywriter; Thomas Farrall, art director. Production Company Chromista Eliza McNitt, director; Ted Robbins, co-founder, exec producer; Adina Birnbaum, partner & EP; Jeff Baron, partner & managing director; Ray Courtin, line producer; Minka Farthing-Kohl, DP; Ariel Ortiz, 1st AD; Jenny Durbin Smith, choreographer; Chad Yaro, production designer. Casting Buffalo Casting Tisha Blood, casting. VFX The Mill Camila De Biaggi, exec producer; Matt Pascuzzi, creative director; Yoon Bae, 2D lead; Lucia Hill Barroso, Jaymin Han, Aditi Khosia, Bhana Prakash Singh Thakur, Sugankumar R.C., Kishore R, Amulya Chandra Nayak, Suraj Kamar, Sethya Narayanan, Jegadeesan Velayutham, Avijit Kharamal, Orsu Balasubramanyam, Sushil Palai, Dilip Kumar Dwivedi, Rahul Prakash Srivastava, Rohil Vardha, Raj Vardha, Krishman Palani, Chetan Shelar, Jagannatham Venkata Rakesh, Jaswantsingh Nikam, Suresh KP, Satram Veeravaraprasad, Aditya Kumar, Ramachandran Kannappan, Souvik Samadder, S. Nikhilesh, Ankit Shaw, Shiji L.A., Mohit Pal; Chet Hirsch, art director; Adrian Navarro, Laura Nash, Amy Staropoli, designers; Sheila Lobo, Zack Stimell, producers; Paola Malo, production coordinator. Color The Mill Elodie Ichter, colorist; Alex Lubrano, color EP; Colleen Valentino, Joanne Lee, color producers; Sam Ommen, Nick Yelesin, color assist. Editorial The Quarry Geri Docherty, editor. Audio Post Sonic Union Rob Ballingall, sound designer/mixer; Mary Kate Valentino, EP. 

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