CAMH puts the spotlight on addiction

Who: The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, with Camp Jefferson for strategy and creative; Partners Film for production (directed by Brent Foster); Alter Ego, The Vanity, and Outsider for post production; OSO Audio for sound; and Jungle Media for media.

What: “Spotlight on Addiction,” a new campaign about the growing problem of addiction across the country, including the terrible death toll—approximately 20 people a day—caused by overdose.

When & Where: The campaign is live now, running across TV, online video, social (paid and owned), print and radio.

Why: Earlier this year, CAMH launched the “No One Left Behind” platform with a goal to raise $500 million for a world-class mental health care facility. This new campaign resides on that platform, but with a specific focus on the devastation caused by increased rates of addiction, and how CAMH is working to tackle the problem head on.

According to CAMH, visits to its emergency department for amphetamine use were up 700% between 2014 and 2021, while the number of young people visiting for substance abuse went up by 50% in just six months between June 2022 and January 2023.

“We’re in the midst of an unprecedented crisis,” said Dr. Leslie Buckley, CAMH’s chief of addictions, in a release. “By putting a spotlight on addiction, we’re highlighting the struggles that people are facing and the need for urgent investments in solutions that make a difference.”

How: The campaign is anchored by a 30-second ad that shows people standing under individual spotlights in an otherwise dark room.

“It’d be a tragedy if we were losing one person to drug overdose every day,” says a voiceover. “Five…. seven… or 12 people. That would be unimaginable,” she says, as the lights are suddenly extinguished to signify another life lost.

“But in Canada, we lose 20 people to overdose every. Single. Day. That’s a crisis.”

After the last spotlight goes out, briefly plunging the screen into darkness, the lights come back on, the people return and viewers are asked to donate to CAMH to help face addition head on.

“We wanted to visualize the catastrophic impact addiction has on Canadians, while still maintaining their humanity,” said Ian Barr, head of strategy at Camp Jefferson. “But as dark as the current drug crisis might be, CAMH is a beacon of hope, fighting against the darkness and helping those in need.”

Along with the advertising, a special section of the CAMH site includes a collection of “stories of hope” from people sharing their own experiences with addiction.

The integrated campaign is running across TV, online video, print and radio, and is being further amplified on the CAMH and CAMH Foundation’s social channels. Its efforts include a diverse and powerful collection of stories of people with lived addiction experience to highlight its leadership in addiction research and treatment

And we quote: “We want people to see this campaign out in the world and know that there’s always hope and help—and they can find it at CAMH.” —Deborah Gillis, president and CEO, CAMH Foundation

David Brown