NAB, Ogilvy PR work to erase mental-illness stigma

WASHINGTON: Following several major gun-related tragedies in the past year, the National Association of Broadcasters has turned to Ogilvy Public Relations to increase awareness about mental health, particularly for teens and adults.

WASHINGTON: Following several major gun-related tragedies in the past year, the National Association of Broadcasters has turned to Ogilvy Public Relations to increase awareness about mental health, particularly for teens and adults.

The group hired Ogilvy after a competitive RFP process.

It launched the OK2TALK campaign in conjunction with the Obama administration's efforts on mental health awareness. The trade group hopes the initiative encourages conversations and lets people know that help is available and effective.

The organization came up with the idea to launch an outreach effort in January, the month after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, took the lives of 26 people. It picked Ogilvy over several other firms to lead the effort because “their proposal just blew us away; it was so honest and passionate,” said Michelle Lehman, EVP of marketing at the National Association of Broadcasters.

“They clearly had people who had a real passion and wanted to help in some way,” she said.

As part of its pitch, Ogilvy submitted a video featuring staff members who have suffered from mental illness or have known someone who has, said Junia Geisler, VP of social marketing at Ogilvy Washington.

The NAB chose to target 13-to-24-year-olds and their family members with the campaign because this is the age range in which mental illness begins to manifest, according to government research. A communications challenge affecting the campaign is pushing for behavioral changes.

“Our main concern is that people feel mental illness is so stigmatized they don't want to talk about it,” Lehman said.

Another hurdle to overcome was creating messages that would speak to the various constituents in the age range NAB is trying to reach.

“Talking to a 13-year-old is very different from talking to someone in their 20s,” Geisler said.

Campaign components include nine TV and four radio spots that feature young people sharing stories of struggle with mental illness. Some of the ads are in Spanish.

Ogilvy also created a Tumblr-based social platform that can serve as a community where people with mental-health problems and their families and friends can share stories of struggle and recovery.

The firm is also using media outreach to draw attention to research it conducted that found two-thirds of young adults have personally experienced mental-health problems. In addition, three in 10 young adults and nearly half of parents surveyed believe mental illness carries the greatest stigma in society.

Production costs related to the PSAs were just under $1 million, Lehman said. She did not quantify the cost of other work Ogilvy is performing.

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