Kids Help Phones urges young Canadians to ‘Feel Out Loud’

Who: Kids Help Phone, with McCann Canada for strategy and creative; Merchant for production (directed by Matilda Finn); Saints, Darling and TA2 for post-production; Epitaph for media.

What: A campaign introducing a new brand platform: “Feel Out Loud.” It is the organization’s first campaign since a major rebrand revealed last month. It’s being described as “taking shame and stigma out of mental health issues.”

When & Where: The campaign is in market now, with a two-and-a-half minute video running as a paid YouTube ad, supported by 60- and 30-second spots running across TV, digital and social. Other elements include out-of-home and merchandise.

Why: The goal here is to encourage young people to seek out Kids Help Phone for support through the use of what McCann describes as a “vibrant and resonant platform.”

The campaign is designed to reintroduce Kids Help Phone to Canadian youth and make a new impression of the organization and what it stands for, said McCann’s chief creative officer, Josh Stein.

“We wanted to show young people of all ages that there are no good feelings or bad feelings, they are not alone in their struggles and that there is always hope,” said Kids Help Phone president and CEO Katherine Hay in a release.

How: “[The creative team] was trying to figure out a way to create something that was going to resonate with kids, who are a tough audience,” said Stein. “We needed to make sure it was going to feel genuine and authentic, and we wanted them to know that we understand their world and that whatever they’re going through, Kids Help Phone is there for them.”

Set to a cover of the Bjork song “It’s Oh So Quiet,” the longer version of the lead spot is constructed around three vignettes of young people as they experience and internalize their feelings over being ostracized by schoolmates, uncertainty about their sexuality, and a volatile home environment, before finding comfort on their phone thanks to KHP. A closing super reads “Give your feelings a place to go,” followed by the “Feel Out Loud” tagline.

The creative team of Mike Shuman and Gail Pak considered several “unexpected” directors before settling on Matilda Finn, who has helmed videos for music artists including The Weeknd and Danny Brown. “We’re up against music videos, we’re up against poetic storytelling and quick things [for attention], so we needed to strike a chord,” said Stein. “We wanted to reflect a world that Canadian youth would be able to relate to, and show it in a way that didn’t sensationalize it.”

The accompanying out-of-home includes images of young people accompanied by messages such as “When she/her doesn’t get why you go by they/them” and “Say nothing. Say everything.”

About that song: Music is a key way of reaching youth audiences and connecting to their world. Stein said that the creative team considered several songs, including Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” and Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” but the Bjork song was the best fit. “It was a beautiful choice the team made, and we were lucky enough to be able to use it.”

And we quote: “The new platform ‘Feel Out Loud’ isn’t just about being loud. It’s about giving your feelings a place to go. With this new platform and campaign, we wanted to make sure young people felt seen. With each story, we tried to be as realistic and relatable as possible—to create a connection between young people and Kids Help Phone.” — Athina Lalljee, associate creative director, McCann Canada

Chris Powell