Despite what they say, not all kids are ‘Fine’

Who: Kids Help Phone, with McCann Canada for strategy and creative, Weber Shandwick for PR.

What: A new wave of creative in the “Feel Out Loud” platform that kicks off of an ambitious $300 million fundraising goal to expand its e-health services.

When & Where: The ads are running across both paid and donated media, while KHP also enlisted more than 50 Canadian artists to record a song called “What I Wouldn’t Do (North Star Rising).” The song is available on YouTube and streaming services including Spotify and Apple Music, and is also being played on Bell Media-owned radio stations.

Why: The first wave of advertising in the “Feel Out Loud” platform was aimed at kids and youth, and introduced the Kids Help Phone rebrand unveiled in December. This latest wave is targeting the adults, philanthropists, corporations, etc. who can help KHP achieve its “big, ambitious” fundraising goal, said McCann’s chief creative officer Josh Stein.

The goal of the campaign is to show adult donors just how urgent the mental health crisis for kids has become, said Athina Lalljee, associate creative director with McCann. Preliminary research suggested a “clear disconnect” between how young people are feeling about their mental health and how adults perceive it, with young people using Kids Help Phone more than 14 million times since the pandemic began.

“[Adults] think it’s a lot better than it really is,” said Lalljee. “Young people aren’t always comfortable expressing how they really feel to the people in their life.” Approximately 75% of young people share something with Kids Help Phone they haven’t shared with anyone else. “That just speaks to the amount of trust they have in Kids Help Phone.”

How (The advertising): The new ad creative plays off  the standard response that teens and young people tend to give parents, teachers, etc. whenever they’re asked how they’re doing: “I’m fine.

“They may be telling you they’re fine, or maybe they’re not comfortable talking about things, but [the ad shows] what may be happening behind that quick comment,” said Lalljee.

The full 60-second version of “Fine” features kids saying “I’m fine” though they’re clearly dealing with an array of problems. The spot ends with a young boy sitting at the kitchen table, telling his mother “I’m fine” while using the Kids Help Phone app.

McCann worked with the clinical team at Kids Help Phone to ensure that the spot featured scenarios that felt both real and authentic. “These moments really needed to feel real and relatable, because even though it’s targeted to adults, there’s a chance young people could see this work,” said Lalljee. “It needed to clearly reflect their world.”

How (The song): It feels like it’s been a while since we had a charity song like 1985’s “Tears Are Not Enough,” the Canadian entry in the wave of African famine relief songs that sprang up in the wake of Band-Aid’s “Do They Know it’s Christmas.”

The song, which is credited to Artists for Feel Out Loud, is a blend of of Serena Ryder’s 2013 song “What I Wouldn’t Do” and Leela Gilday’s “North Star Calling”  that features slightly tweaked lyrics to make it a better fit with Kids Help Phone, such as “You can reach out and call me/I’ll tell you that you’re not alone.”

Produced by super-producer Bob Ezrin—who has produced albums for bands including Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper and KISS—and longtime Canadian music and media executive Randy Lennox, the song features performances from more than 50 Canadian artists including Ryder, Jully Black and Sarah McLachlan. It has garnered more than 75,000 streams on YouTube, to go with more than 155,000 streams on Spotify and play on Bell Media radio stations.

“We know that music is such an emotional draw for people,” said Stein. “They did a great job of capturing the joyous spirit of what we’re trying to do, and by including all of these artists from different backgrounds, with different audiences of their own, it gives this campaign more reach than we would have had had we just relied on traditional advertising.”

And we quote: “Feel Out Loud is about breaking down barriers to mental health services and supports by creating more space for young people to express themselves, feel seen, heard, and have their feelings validated safe from judgement, in the ways that work best for them.” — Katherine Hay, president and CEO, Kids Help Phone

Chris Powell