With body image concerns causing a third of UK adults to ‘feel anxious’, and 1 in 8 having ‘suicidal thoughts’, a number of brands took a positive stance during Mental Health Awareness Week (13th-19th May).
Boots’ summer campaign defiantly referenced 2015’s notorious “Are you beach body ready?” campaign, with two friends mocking the ‘perfect’ body image traditionally associated with summer and swimwear advertising.
Advertisers are right to engage: 21% of those suffering anxiety cite body images used in ads as the cause while a further 22% cite body image on social media (rising to 40% among teenagers).
Mental Health Awareness Week saw a number of coordinated media campaigns. Coty and Wellman joined Harry’s (a longstanding commentator on men’s mental health) and ran media partnerships with The Book of Man (a new media brand which aims to celebrate a ‘healthier form’ of masculinity). Media brands are engaging too.
Having defined a wider business strategy around ‘the power of positivity’, magazine publisher Hearst has banned the use of negative language around body image across all their brands. Radiocentre organised a ‘roadblock’ message starring the Duke of Cambridge across 300 stations while The Guardian produced a supplement focused on individuals’ stories to highlight the support services available. A specially-commissioned ‘locker room’ focused on male mental health (also featuring the Duke) formed the centrepiece of the Football Association’s Heads Up campaign, airing on the BBC as part of a week-long series of programmes. Similarly, Bauer’s “Where’s Your Head At?” campaign aims to lobby government to make changes to workplace culture.
Not every initiative was successful, however. The Prime Minister was accused of hypocrisy after lighting Downing Street green to commemorate the week, despite having made significant cuts to government funding.
As such, the businesses making real traction have committed long-term, and not just through marketing. We can’t expect one week to rewire mental health awareness, but it’s a good place to start.