.Guys, it’s okay to talk.
Each year Dentsu Aegis runs a nationwide competition, where an agency from the network helps students create a campaign for a cause they care about. This year’s winners were 6 young men from a school in Croydon, who wanted to tackle mental health. We worked with the guys to develop their initial ideas into a nationwide campaign.
development of idea
Speaking to teenage boys about mental health is a rare opportunity. As a small team we heard how they felt and gathered some really important insights that helped us shape this campaign. They told us:
“Men feel like they don’t need help”
“You have to seem tough”
“Girls talk, boys don’t”
This was heart-breaking to hear, but it did really cement in my mind that this was something that young men in particular were struggling with due to the stereotypical expectations put against them to be tough, brave and strong. To me, this was more than mental health, this was confronting how society rejects boys emotions, as well as challenging why boys feel like they shouldn’t need to talk.
concept | art direction
Emotions have no gender, and yet boys feel that they have to ‘be a man’ instead of voicing what’s really going on. The idea was simple, to get the feelings of a boy heard in a way that they wouldn’t be shot down, dismissed or told to man up.
We crafted four hard hitting scripts revealing the inner thoughts of boys in a way that would play with the viewer assumptions… by having them believe they were listening to women. Only at the end would we reveal it was a boy, at the exact moment the young man stops himself from voicing his emotions out loud and reiterating that he needs to toughen up.
We told our audience ‘Guy’s, it’s okay to talk’ to prompt a behaviour change and pointed to The Mix, an online charity for teenagers that we personally hunted down to get them onboard with our campaign.
Many who worked on this project have personal connections to its message. Our Director, the incredibly talented Harry Hitchens has spoken openly about his struggles with mental health. And Influencers Josiah Hyacinth and Spencer Elmer have both been very open about the effects of mental health in their lives.
The campaign is live right this ruddy second! Across TVC, Cinema and Video on Demand, with DOOH and Radio coming soon.