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How ITV Creative Showed Young People Self-Care Doesn’t Have to be Wholesome to Be Healthy for CALM

Behind the Work 525 Add to collection

Digging in to ITV Creative’s latest project for ITV2’s partnership with Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), LBB speaks to the creative team, strategist and director bringing humour to self care, helping CALM reach their target demographic, and eating hotdogs in the bath

How ITV Creative Showed Young People Self-Care Doesn’t Have to be Wholesome to Be Healthy for CALM
Life is full of ups and downs. The wellness industry and its proliferation via Instagram, would have many believe that taking a bath, mindful breathing, lighting a candle, or taking a walk is all that’s needed to feel good again. The reality is, of course, very different. As part of ITV2’s partnership with the charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), ITV Creative developed a series of spots encouraging young people to ‘just do what gets you through’ . The campaign is running on ITV2 where the audience is heavily skewed towards the 16-34 age group, as well as other ITV channels.

Led by ITV Creative’s ECD, Tony Pipes, the main idea for the campaign came from Heidi Martin, a junior creative, who didn’t feel that the reality of how people coped was reflected on social media. Inspired by the quirky behaviours that rarely fall under the cliche category of self care, the spots make a bold point using humour and authenticity to speak directly to the 16-34 audience. Shot by the up-and-coming director Alex Dickinson, and with invaluable insights provided by the senior social purpose manager, Annabel Barratt, the team behind the scenes was purposefully of the same demographic as their target audience. ITV Creative, under Tony’s direction, is passionate about nurturing young talent and providing them with opportunities. 

Today, we speak with Tony, Annabel, Heidi, and Alex about bringing humour to self care, helping CALM reach their target demographic, and eating hotdogs in the bath.

LBB> What was the brief from CALM for this project and how did you initially approach it?

Tony> The brief was to help young people find a way to cope with life’s ups and downs any way they can. In the brief it was expressed as "It doesn't have to be wholesome to be healthy”, which to us felt like a breath of fresh air in a world where we are being bombarded with mindfulness tips and scented candles. There was real world research conducted about the things people do to get them through the bad days and the diversity in the answers gave us the fuel we needed to have fun with it. 

LBB> Annabel, what insights informed the strategy on this work?

Annabel> It’s great that there is more mental health content out there than ever, but we noticed that much of it is covering similar ground: recommending breathing exercises, fresh air walks, trying a new hobby like gardening, or chatting over a cup of tea. These things are all proven and work brilliantly for some of us, but when we spoke to young people, what struck us was how little those solutions resonated with lots of them. While the world of ‘#selfcare’ might look one way on Instagram, the go-to pick me ups they shared with us were far less squeaky clean - having a takeaway in bed, picturing someone’s face on the boxing bag at the gym, or calling your grandma to bitch about your mum. That’s what landed us at our insight - that pick me ups don’t have to be wholesome to be healthy. 

LBB> ITV2 has an audience of 16 - 34 - how important is authenticity and humour to engaging this type of audience?

Annabel> There are plenty of mental health ads out there that use the same cliched, clinical language and we saw this audience were already poking fun at this topic on social media platforms like TikTok - so humour felt like a great way to break from the category norm and participate in the conversation that our audience were already having. In that sense, humour was actually key to ensuring this campaign felt authentic. We also crowdsourced weird and wonderful pick-me-ups from this audience to make sure these were genuinely things people were doing.    

LBB> CALM has a wonderful strong brand image, rooted in youth culture. How did you work with them to ensure the ads reflected their look and feel?

Tony> ITV2 has always been a space for young people and mental health is a cause close to ITV's heart, so it's a great platform for us to work together to encourage positive behaviour change with this audience. We have a boldness and authenticity, just like CALM - so it's a great fit. 

Heidi> Like Tony says, CALM and ITV2 align perfectly in terms of brand style and tone of voice. It felt like a really natural collaboration. CALM is all about making a stand, being bold and noisy, and I knew that as long as we stood by those same principles, we were going to create something brilliant. And I hope that we achieved that. 

LBB> Annabel,  ‘wholesome’ and ‘healthy’ - why do you think people often think these things are one and the same?

Annabel> While things like exercise, fresh air and eating well have always been recognised as benefiting our mental health, the culture of self-care and the wellness industry has popularised an even more wholesome view of what’s healthy for both our body and mind. We see such a filtered ‘Instagrammable’ view of what caring for ourselves looks like, we wanted to lift the lid on what goes on behind the scenes. 

LBB> As a charity dealing with some challenging stats and statistics, how much insight could CALM provide you directly on how their target audience behave?

Annabel> Aside from the frontline services they offer, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) are involved with communities across the UK, engaging with people through music, comedy, gaming and sport to spread their message. As a result they have a really deep understanding of this audience and their biggest worries and pressures. They also helped us conduct a survey with this audience to find out about people’s quirky pick me ups so we truly understood the spectrum of what people were doing to boost their mood.  

LBB> Tony, how did you put together the team for this project? Was it important to have young minds on this work considering the target audience?

Tony> To make this campaign land with the audience it needed to feel authentic, so we needed people from the same world to get it right. At ITV Creative I always want to push and work with young and diverse talent. This is the only way to get new thinking and fresh ideas- without the baggage. 

LBB> Heidi, tell me more about the creative process - how did you land on this idea? And why did you opt for humour to get across what is quite a serious message?

Heidi> Working on the ITV2 x CALM campaign, I initially looked to see the human truth that I recognised. Falling within the target age demographic I thought about what my friends and I do when we feel down and what outside influences tell us we should be doing. I found that when I scroll on Instagram, or other social platforms I am served loads of worthy, wanderlust, mindful-style posts that tell me to wake up early and watch the sunrise or walk bare footed through a field to feel good... and sure, they’re probably all lovely things to do, but not what I think the majority of us do to feel better. So that’s where the idea formed. I wanted to show these wellness clichés and turn them on their head. Instead of meditating, we want to game, or eat a hot dog in the bath! That’s where the juxtaposing worlds and the rug pull moments came from, as well as our campaign line.

I opted for humour because it aligns with CALM’s tone of voice. CALM is bold and noisy and doesn’t shy away from important topics, so we had to do the same. I also find that people are often much more perceptive and far more accepting of seeking help when they feel comfortable, and humour does that.

LBB> Heidi, hot dogs in the bath, any inspiration from personal experience here or just a brilliant brainwave?

Heidi> Sadly, there is no autobiographical link! I have yet to have a hot dog in the bath, but after seeing Nathan enjoying it so much...I might be tempted!

We did research into the types of things that 16-34 people do to make themselves feel better, and actually, some of the answers weren’t a million miles away from eating a hot dog in the bath! I think we even had someone who said they walked their pet snake.. you might be seeing that next!

LBB> Heidi, why was Alex the perfect director for this project? 

Heidi> Alex and I worked on a great social purpose film a year or two ago, and knowing what an amazing job he did with that, I was so excited to be working with him again on this project. Alex generally just ‘gets it’ – he understood the idea immediately, and is so brilliant at getting great character performances, which was essential for this work. 

LBB> Alex, what techniques did you use to create a contrast between what the audience thinks they’re about to see (a wellness ad) with the humorous reveal?

Alex> It was important for me to get out of the “wellness ad style” world as quickly as possible and create a range of transitions that would literally slap the audience across the face to grab their attention. There was always going to be a danger that they would lose interest if we stayed in that world for too long so I came up with the idea of creating short/punchy transitions that translate a story arc between the two worlds. I wanted these transitions to be silly and entertaining but also something our target audience could relate to.

LBB> Alex, can you tell us about the casting for these spots? How important was it to find relatable actors?

Alex> It goes without saying that when casting for a promo that is dealing with important issues such as mental health we find actors who the audience can really connect to. In the end I think we found two very good actors who were able to convey a warm feeling of everyday life but do it in a way that doesn’t dilute the overall message of our campaign. 

LBB> How long was the shoot? Were there any production challenges to navigate?

Alex> We actually managed to shoot both promos in just one day, which felt like a realistic goal until we started to run out of space once we’d crammed all the lights and equipment into a small West London home. At one point I ended up sitting in the shower with a monitor as that was the only place left with a bit of room.

LBB> Alex, with a humorous reveal like this the timing of the edit is often key. How closely did you work with an editor on this project ?

Alex> Even though the promo featured a minimal amount of shots it was really important to get the timings right on the transitional section. This is where we really spent most of our time finessing the framing and tweaking the speeds. Luckily, I worked with a great editor who tried lots of different variations to make sure we truly made them as eye-catching as possible.

LBB> How has the relationship between ITV and CALM evolved since you started working together?

Tony> I think there is a lot of trust with Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), after the campaigns we have done in the past. They can see that we care about the cause and our audience. We have the same respect for their expertise too and they are trusted advisors as well as clients. They are a great team.

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Genres: People, Storytelling

ITV, Tue, 08 Mar 2022 13:44:00 GMT