‘Today’ is about saving lives for CAMH

Who: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), with Camp Jefferson for strategy and creative, Jungle Media for media and Scout’s Honour for production, with post-production from Outsider Editorial, Grayson Music House, and The Vanity.

What: “Today,” a new advertising, content and PR-focused campaign to raise awareness about the important life-saving research being done at CAMH, while also calling for financial support and donations.

When & Where: The campaign went into market today (Sept. 10) for World Suicide Prevention Day and will run through the end of the year. Media includes TV, OOH, print, digital (social and search) as well as number of live media appearances from Sept. 13-17.

Why: This is another chapter in a story CAMH and Camp Jefferson started to tell last year with the “Not Today” campaign, which was about the risks of mental illness, the importance of suicide prevention, and CAMH’s commitment to help.

“Last year was really this bold statement, this sort of clear north star vision that CAMH wanted to declare to the world that we are going to prevent suicide,” said Sarah Chamberlin, CAMH’s VP of marketing and donor experience. “This year we’re extending that to say, ‘Today we are doing the work that is going to enable us to prevent suicide, and today we need your support to help us move faster so that we can help more people more quickly, and accelerate these discoveries.'”

For the agency, the goal has been to connect with people who don’t understand the breadth and depth of mental illness, and start to explain how meaningful the research is in treating mental illness, said Ian Barr, SVP, director of strategy at Camp Jefferson. “There’s still a large portion of the population that doesn’t understand how donations make a difference,” he said. The campaign is intended to make that research more tangible, while drawing people in to learn more about mental illness and, in many cases, actually tap into the resources and services CAMH offers to those in need.

“Last year’s campaign, the numbers of people in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands who accessed those resources made us feel as though the whole thing was worth it,” said Chamberlin.

How (advertising): The new TV spots focus on two specific examples of how CAMH is treating mental illness in innovative ways. In one case, it’s the integration of traditional Indigenous healing practices, and the other its breakthrough treatments for PTSD. In both cases, the main character says “Not today”—the simple but powerful declaration that mental illness would not win today, but this time it’s followed up with “Today…” in order to convey the ways CAMH is making progress

“The challenge with research from a communications perspective is that some of the most amazing things are very complex to explain,” said Barr. “In working with CAMH, we’re able to boil down really tangible things that people could wrap their head around to pique their curiosity and get them to go further into the story.”

How (content): Along with the advertising, Camp Jefferson and CAMH are also using the stories of real people. “Part of this campaign we’re super proud of is content where people who have experienced mental illness are telling their stories in their own voice,” said Chamberlin (examples here and here).

In addition to the content which is on the CAMH site, each day next week they’ll be focusing on a different topic or storyline relating to mental health—including live media appearances by researchers talking about their work, as well as individuals sharing their own experience with mental illness.

“You can understand who this research actually helps and humanize it a little bit, which is often missing,” said Barr. “When you hear research you think of discoveries, but you forget there are people on the other end going through a lot of different things.”

The ads, the content and storytelling are all meant to both encourage donations but also draw people in to the CAMH website, where they can learn more about the work being done to treat a wide range of mental illness. “We’re hoping that these will be compelling enough that people will go to CAMH.ca and learn more, you will see a whole series of other examples of research discovery, as well as a whole series of other people,” said Chamberlin.

And we quote: “The sentiment is mental health research is saving lives. That’s the takeaway that people are going to get from this: when you donate to CAMH, you’re donating to research and it’s saving lives.” — Ian Barr, SVP, director of strategy, Camp Jefferson


David Brown