Mental wellbeing matters: brands leading the way
You might have heard about the recent disruption to the Britain’s Got Talent final, when hosts Ant and Dec halted the live show for a minute of silence and encouraged audience members to turn to one another and start up a conversation. This marked the start of ITV’s 5-year Britain Get Talking campaign which aims to encourage individuals simply to have a conversation with one another.
The campaign, which is supported by mental health charities Mind, YoungMinds, and SAMH, stems from statistics showing a staggering 48% rise in anxiety and depression amongst British children in the past 15 years. To help combat this, ITV will be televising ‘silent’ adverts designed to give people time and space to chat and help them to understand that talking and listening can improve mental wellness. Familiar faces such as Gordon Ramsey, Dermot O’Leary and Holly Willoughby, as well as brands like Gillette and Dunelm, are all on board to help. So far the campaign seems to be doing its job, as following the initial televised silence individuals rushed to Twitter to praise the campaign and its efforts.
LADbible and MIND charity collaborated to launch the ‘UOKM8?’ campaign in 2016, hoping to prompt honest discussion of mental wellbeing between young men. LADbible revamped the campaign last year in response to its audience’s requests for further information surrounding mental health. It created fresh online content offering practical advice, with the aim of providing young people with the tools that they need to start talking.
The multi-layered campaign included a video series, partnerships with boohooMAN and Yorkshire Tea, and involved influential figures such as world-renowned Olympic gymnast Louis Smith, Brits Critics Choice Award Winner Sam Fender, and mental health campaigner and poet Hussain Manawer. Smith’s account of his personal experience with depression, the inspiration behind Fender’s “Dead Boys” (a song about losing two friends to suicide) and Manawer’s advice about openly discussing your feelings with your friends, were all shared in the spirit of encouraging people to invite conversation about mental health into their everyday lives. The campaign reached over 36 million young people and drove 823k social media engagements, and won various awards in 2017, including Drum’s DADI award for Best Use of Social Media and Lovie’s Best Social Video Series award.
Going where the audience is
Infiltrating existing, well-loved cultural spaces is a popular strategy for brands hoping to spark conversations about mental health. Another example is Dove’s recent partnership with the multi-Emmy-nominated hit Cartoon Network show Steven Universe - a two-year collaboration working to improve self-esteem and body confidence among young people through the creation of six animated short films featuring the show’s characters. The shorts will be aired on Cartoon Network and will include titles covering the issues young people face growing up in the digital age, from ‘Social Media’ and ‘Competing and Comparing’ to ‘Media and Celebrities’.
Celebrating all the feels
Monki, a fashion label owned by Swedish retailer H&M, has collaborated with Mental Health Europe to create two campaigns focused on encouraging young people to acknowledge and engage with their ‘feels’. Jennie Dahlin Hansson, the brand’s Managing Director, states: “Empowering young people is at the heart of everything we do here at Monki, so I’m very proud that we’re taking an active part in the mental health discussion.”
Their first collaboration, titled ‘All the feels’, is designed to raise awareness about the impact social media can have on young people's mental health. The concept consists of short videos featuring social media influencers who explore the complexities of using social media and the negative effects it may have on mental wellbeing. The influencers discuss issues such as the pressures of body image and managing an online persona, and share tips on combating social media induced anxiety. Meanwhile, Monki offered a special clothing range consisting of bucket hats, hoodies and scarves, giving the wearer the ability to express how they feel through interchangeable Velcro word badges.
Their second collaboration ‘Embrace the feels’, was made up of three short videos based on a different emotion; feeling happy, feeling sad and feeling every emotion at once. The videos were intended to show that all feelings are valid and directed viewers to a list of practical tips to improve their mental wellbeing. The campaign was accompanied by the sale of limited edition t-shirts featuring the statement; ‘Embrace your feels’ and a longer manifesto championing the importance of self-care and zero stigma conversations.
Brands and mental health, is it genuine?
Despite the good that brands like this are undoubtedly doing, mental wellbeing as a new marketing strategy trend is a controversial topic - highlighting the fine line between raising awareness and tokenistically capitalising on a serious issue. Mental Health Awareness Month can sometimes become a platform for brands to promote themselves and their products, which can often result in shifting the focus (and profit) towards the brand rather than the causes.
A recent study in AdWeek found that for a brand to be perceived by young consumers as having a purpose, they must extend past just one campaign; marketers are struggling with putting the ideals of cause marketing into practice for individual campaigns and not going any deeper.1 As we’ve seen, Dove’s 15-year campaign has established the brand as purposeful, but it would be interesting to see if other brands who have recently delved into mental health awareness campaigns will continue to support the cause, or if we’ll soon see a switch to the next hot topic.
Written by Anika Vadukul, Savannah Hanson, Emma Lubega