As social distancing and stay-at-home orders continue, so do loneliness, anxiety, depression and a host of other strains on mental health that can make it difficult to get through the day.
Considering May is Mental Health Awareness Month, the Ad Council is taking the opportunity to remind young people that checking in on friends and loved ones is more important than ever, even if getting the conversation started is a little bit awkward.
Created pro bono by Droga5, an upbeat music video featuring rapper Akinyemi urges teenagers to ask friends how they’re doing right now and if they need someone to talk to. It also features appearances from celebrities including singer Meghan Trainor, TikTok star Addison Rae and YouTuber Molly Burke.
The PSA encourages teens to get creative if they’re having trouble broaching the subject of mental health. To that end, the agency worked with 36 artists to create more than 70 stickers and GIFs for Giphy that serve as “conversation starters.”
The effort is a collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and The Jed Foundation, which works to boost emotional health and prevent suicide among young adults.
“For many young people struggling with mental health issues, the fears and challenges resulting from Covid-19 have amplified what they’re going through,” said Heidi Arthur, chief campaign development officer at the Ad Council, in a statement. “The new creative, brimming with energy and positivity, will provide our audience with support and give them access to tips and resources during this particularly difficult time.”
The campaign is the latest of iteration of “Seize the Awkward,” a campaign Droga5 debuted for the Ad Council in 2018 that focuses on embracing, rather than shying award from, the uncomfortable moments that can arise when trying to have a serious conversation with a friend about their mental health.
According to Mietta McFarlane, a senior copywriter at Droga5 who worked on the new PSA, the agency had to make some changes once the crisis hit and everyone started working from home.
“We definitely had to pivot in terms of how we approached production,” she said. “Originally, we were going to have a full live-action shoot, and obviously that wasn’t possible. So instead, we came at it in a different way. We just changed the way that we brought it to life.”
Messaging, too, had to pivot. Luke Chard, a senior art director at Droga5, said the agency had to reassess what the PSA was asking of people since in-person conversations are now restricted, which explains why much of the song’s lyrics focus on virtual interactions.
Chard said the campaign’s director, Kristian Mercado Figueroa, helped pull together a band of animators and illustrators bring the ad to life since live-action shoots were canceled.
“Even before going into quarantine, the approach was to show all these different, diverse ways of reaching out and asking, so we were really excited about the opportunity to show a wide variety of animations and illustrations,” he said.
The campaign is being supported with donated media from Google, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Tumblr and Snap Inc. Media agency Initiative is providing pro bono support by securing placements with Billboard, Complex, Spotify, Tastemade, Uproxx and more.