Mental health awareness and campaigns are on the rise—and it’s heartening to see that.
The pandemic upended our lives: a Microsoft Work Trend Index report released in 2021 noted that one-third of the workforce in Asia-Pacific workforce faced increased rates of burnout, with highest levels recorded in Singapore and India. Findings from the same survey in 2022 highlighted that six in ten frontline workers in APAC wished more was done for physical exhaustion, and 58% believed work stress will stay the same or worsen in 2022.
Against this backdrop, it’s easy to see why brands around the world are making mental health marketing a priority and shifting the focus from product (and profit) towards the cause. And barring the 2018 Burger King scandal, where the brand was accused of being tone-deaf and capitalising on mental illness to sell burgers, consumers are receptive to campaigns that sensitively tackle a once-taboo topic.
At Campaign, our inboxes are overwhelmed with mental health campaigns—some hit the spot, while others miss the mark. But what’s important is that brands are no longer commodifying a public health issue and representation of marginalised groups has increased. With that in mind, the Campaign Asia-Pacific editorial team members decided it would be meaningful to highlight their favourite campaigns which break the stigma, promote mental wellbeing and kickstart the conversation.
‘Dramatic Transformation’ by Asics
What it's about: What it's about: Asics paired up with mental health charity Mind for this year’s World Mental Health Day to shine a light on the impact of exercise on one’s mental health. The UK campaign is based on the insight that nearly three-quarters (73%) of Brits believe society’s obsession with the perfect body is damaging their mental health. A further 80% are demotivated by exercise transformation images and almost half (48%) feel insecure about their bodies after seeing ‘before-and-after’ images. The campaign features Love Island alumnus and A&E doctor Dr Alex George, creator and influencer Jada Sezer, and Strictly Come Dancing judge Motsi Mabuse.
Picked by: Surekha Ragavan, editor, Campaign Asia-Pacific
“Especially in this part of the world, exercise is often associated with both virtuousness and vanity. Personally, the idea of achieving conventional body standards as an end-goal of exercise has tainted ‘gym culture’ for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting down the importance and value of exercise. But I love to see a campaign that celebrates exercise for what it should represent: feeling good about one’s own body, the freedom to express oneself, a gain of physical and mental strength, and ultimately, a sense of personal joy.”
'Tune In To Yourself’ by Spotify
What it's about: On World Mental Health Day 2022, audio platform Spotify curated a list of content to help people gather their thoughts in this busy world. It also got artists and podcasters in countries like India and Sweden to share their personal experiences around mental health. Spotify also worked with Headspace to launch a limited podcast series called Sunday Scaries Student Edition. Based on the Sunday Scaries podcast series, the limited podcast series pairs Gael Aitor of the podcast Teenager Therapy fame, with Headspace wellness expert Dora Kamau to discuss meditation, mindfulness, and life. For each episode, the two discuss how mental health is affecting students and young people. After each epsiode, Kamau leads Aitor through a bespoke meditation on the subject.
Picked by: Shawn Lim, editor, media and technology, Campaign Asia-Pacific
"As both a Headspace and Spotify user, it delights me that Spotify has a partnership with the meditation platform and expanded it with an audio series. In our busy lives, we tend not to have time to read books on mental health, so audiobooks and podcasts are extremely useful tools to help us.”
'Little Red Flower Charity Milk Tea' by Chi Forest
What it's about: On World Mental Health Day 2022, Chi Forest and Tencent Charity Foundation launched a joint campaign to call people to take care of their mental health. Chi Forest decorated its classic milk tea bottles with a hat of a red flower, an icon of Tencent Charity Foundation, rewarding people with red flowers for doing good deeds. The campaign aims to send warm signals to people who are suffering from mental health problems and raise awareness of mental health issues. In addition, the campaign will offer hand-knitting courses and DIY red flowers and hats experience, as well as free counselling via mobile app and hotline interaction. In the end, the brand will collect UGC knitted hats from users and send them into the convenience store channels as a warm healing gift ahead of the winter season.
Picked by: Minnie Wang, senior reporter, Campaign China
“Chi Forest recently renamed the brand’s English name which was previously known as Genki Forest. Milk tea is one of the brand's most well-known products, even though the product experienced a PR crisis in the past, mistakenly labelled as zero-sugar. Now the brand stands out from other drink products by adding Tencent’s signature red flower onto the bottle with a warm hat before winter season and bringing a philanthropic image to the milk tea. It’s the same milk tea but has a warmer heart inside and a warmer hat outside.”
'The Boy Who Failed' by Cadbury Bournvita
What it's about: The short film narrates the story of a boy whose mother steps in to change his perspective on failure and rejection. The commercial starts with a pair of siblings return home after losing a district-level badminton game. While the girl takes the loss in her stride and resumes practice for the next game, the boy allows the episode to crush his spirit. The film has the mother’s voiceover telling her son to consider failure as a teacher rather than his enemy.
Picked by: Nikita Mishra, associate editor, Campaign Asia-Pacific
"Cadbury’s ads have been known to pull on emotion. Bournvita is a somewhat legacy drink for Indian kids and what I love about the campaign is that it talks about failure instead of celebrating success. Failure is important in an individual’s growth story; infact it’s paradoxical, because it’s an important recipe in success. The ad conveys the same inspiring message without over-the-top emotion or moral lecturing, and spotlights progressive parenting. It’s beautifully written, without any overt suggestion that a product (Bournvita) can help one succeed."