How Brands Can Facilitate an Open Dialogue About Mental Health
It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world, and I don’t mean the classic 1963 screwball comedy. These last few years have upended our lives. Perhaps one silver lining has been an increased awareness of mental health.
Some big names have contributed to this enlightenment. Brands such as Malters, Maybelline, and JanSport are taking the lead, but they're not alone. Celebrities, royals, and world class athletes are sharing their stories in an effort to normalize conversations surrounding mental health by letting us know it’s okay to not be okay.
Only your brand can decide whether or not to share mental health messaging. If messaging is sincerity and authentic, it will resonate. Do it right and you'll do a great service. Do it wrong, however well intentioned, and brace yourself for being judged (not in a good way).
What Makes a Successful Mental Health Campaign
People, both employees and customers, are the heart of any business. With this in mind, the overarching mission for marketers is to establish meaningful connection and build lasting relationships. In doing this, sharing what a brand valuesis fundamental.
ESPN, for example, is using their platform and considerable reach to highlight the stories of athletes, coaches, and other sports figures who have experienced personal battles with mental health. These stories reflect a broad range of subject and experiences, including new challenges brought on by the pandemic and social distancing. The hope is that these stories help raise awareness, provide information and improve understanding about mental health.
Increasingly, brands are embracing a more purpose-focused approach. Doing it genuinely can support marketing strategies. But where to start?
Health risks in younger generations, adolescents in particular, is humbling to say the least. From 2001 to 2019, the suicide rate for ages 10-19 jumped 40%, and emergency room visits for self-harm rose 88%. Social media contributes to this, yet it also needs to be part of the solution.
Be clear and direct in communication. How you connect with Gen Z differs from how you connect with Boomers. So just as you would moderate how you speak with a toddler versus your Nana, advertisers are advised to take a moment to think about how best to connect with target audiences. Words matter, and so does context. And, when you’re ready to start sharing wellness information, below are some proven tactics to consider.
Blog and social content—start a conversation with strategic content and SEO focused on mental health topics designed around your organization’s message.
Paid search campaigns—use this cost-effective targeting tool to connect with target audiences.
Social media—ready posts that educate and engage; provide “learn more” info in your bio.
Unique landing pages—prepare focused content with clear calls to action that remove the guesswork from getting information.
Reporting and optimization—leverage insights from dashboard analytics that can inform optimizations and push messaging further to increase ROI.
OTT— Advertising on OTT platforms offers hyper-targeting capabilities, is cost-effective, and engaging forconsumers.
Sharing Multichannel Messaging Is Key to Communication
Let’s get into OTT a little bit more. More and more people, especially younger generations, prefer to send and receive messaging’s using OTT channels for a variety of reasons, see short list below, and most significantly because it lets the user decide when and where they want to connect. So, including it in mental health messaging seems to make a lot of sense.
OTT channels provide a comprehensive solution where customers can do everything in one place, like ask questions, view pictures and videos, get directions, or click on links.
Users can participate in group chats, start conversations, or receive messages.
Users are able to engage at a deeper level by sharing various types of media and reacting to content.
OTT channels can be accessed across devices, whether that is on a computer, mobile phone, or tablet.
And then there’s this: it may sound counterintuitive, but brands can show they care by advocating followers turn off social media for a time. A recent study found that getting off social media for even one week significantly improves a person’s well-being and lowers levels of anxiety and depression.
There’s no absolute In how to message, but there are a few essentials—including making sure messaging is authentic (sorry to be repetitive). Perhaps one more thing to take away: if you want to move the needle in any campaign, it requires a commitment that goes beyond any single month. And if you ever just need a simple escape, streaming It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World may do the trick.
About the Author
@Janine Pollack, MNI Integrated Marketing Director and self-appointed Storyteller in Chief, leads the brands commitment to generating content that informs and inspires. Prior to MNI, Janine worked with Fortune 500 companies and world-renowned education institutions on numerous research and white papers, podcasts and thought-leadership and education campaigns.