Sobeys tackles childhood mental health

Who: Sobeys Inc., with FCB Canada for strategy and creative, North Strategic for PR, XMC for experiential. Media by UM.

What: “Clear the Clouds,” a new campaign supporting the grocery retailer’s three-year-old corporate social responsibility program, “Family of Support: Child & Youth Mental Health Initiative.”

When & Where: The campaign launched this week in support of the annual fundraising program, which runs from July 26 until Aug. 10 at Sobeys and its family of retail banners—a group that includes Safeway, FreshCo, and Foodland—in English Canada. The campaign includes TV, online video and social.

Why: Sobeys has made “family” the foundation of its marketing since 2019, when it launched a new platform calling itself “Canada’s family grocery store.”

In 2020, it introduced “Family of Support” as a partnership between Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundations and the Sobey Foundation to provide funding for early intervention initiatives supporting child and youth mental health at the country’s 13 children’s hospitals. To date, the program has raised more than $9 million to support youth mental health programs.

“This campaign reflects our commitment to create healthier tomorrows for more Canadians,” said Erika DeHaas, vice-president of marketing communications at Sobeys. “A family nurturing families, Sobeys continues to be an advocate for advancing the outcomes of mental health in children and youth across Canada.”

How: The campaign is anchored by a 30-second TV spot that shows a young boy named Charlie who spends his life living under a literal cloud of depression. The cloud follows him around, casting a shadow over everything from trips to the library to school presentations and even a birthday party.

“The cloud creates an external visualization for the boy’s struggles, showing that relatively normal moments can actually be more than they appear,”said Troy McGuinness, group creative director at FCB.

As the spot progresses, the cloud grows larger and darker, finally culminating with a shot of the young boy sitting despondent on his bed as a storm rages around him. “Mental health challenges can start out small. But they don’t always stay that way,” reads the accompanying super.’ A literal break in the clouds comes when his mother steps in and arranges a meeting with a child therapist.

And we quote: “Mental health challenges can start out small, but don’t always stay that way. Without intervention or access to resources, mental health challenges among children and youth can grow over time. Our new TV spot aims to build an emotional connection with Canadians to help them understand the importance of child and youth mental health early intervention.” — Erika DeHaas, vice-president of marketing communications, Sobeys



Chris Powell