On Monday 4th February 2019 the Instagram sensation @world_record_egg finally cracked.
“Recently I’ve started to crack. The pressure of social media is getting to me,” said the egg in a TV spot that premiered on Hulu. “If you’re struggling too, talk to someone. We got this.”
Given that the record breaking egg is followed by a large number of young people, it was a pleasant surprise to see the creators use its recently acquired fame to talk about mental health, rather than opt for a commercial sell out.
With the help of Prince Harry and other famous faces, stigma surrounding mental health is gradually being eroded. Training at work is becoming more commonplace and companies are being challenged to consider the wellbeing of their customers too.
In Ireland last summer the German supermarket Lidl hosted a series of pop-ups that encouraged young people to speak openly about mental health issues. In addition to open discussions, the program included events designed to promote mental wellness, such as laughter yoga, meditation and singalong socials.
But not all brands get it right. Earlier this month Sunny D’s ‘I can’t do this any more’ tweet caused a stir for the wrong reasons. What some people read as a whimsical comment about post-Super Bowl inertia, others saw as a shout for help. The latter interpretation was nurtured by the brand as it retweeted a flurry of concerned replies. This choice to use depression as a marketing stunt seems like a new low.
One in 10 children have a diagnosable mental health disorder according to data from the charity Young Minds. In fact, half of all mental health problems manifest themselves by the age of 14. In a sector that’s underfunded, there’s an opportunity for companies to fill the gap, if done in the right way of course.
We also can’t ignore the business opportunity. Earlier this month wellness app Calm revealed it had raised $88 million in a Series B financing, valuing the company at $1 billion USD and making it the first mental health unicorn. The company’s mission ‘to make the world happier and healthier’ is resonating with people all over the globe.
As the retail landscape changes, brands are searching for new opportunities to engage with consumers and find genuine ways to make their lives better. But as with all purpose driven comms strategies, mental health needs to be part of a business transformation, not just a marketing platform.