Declan Rice tackles loneliness for Campaign Against Living Miserably

The campaign for suicide prevention charity from AMVBBDO and Seven Stones sees the England and West Ham footballer take on ‘the invisible opponent’

Georgie Moreton

Assistant Editor, BITE


Loneliness is a significant problem in the UK that is detrimental to people’s mental health. Following the insight that 3 million people say they feel lonely some or most of the time, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) has launched a campaign starring footballer Declan Rice to encourage people to seek support.

The campaign has been created for the charity by AMV BBDO and Seven Stones, agencies that are working together following the successful launch of “The Invisible Opponent” campaign last year featuring heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury. The agencies have come together again to create the Rice campaign that challenges stereotypes and helps people open up about how they are feeling.

‘The Invisible Opponent 2’ sees Declan Rice battle to take on his invisible opponents on the pitch in a film that is the heart of a new campaign. Through clever editing the film shows Rice alone on the field running into different challenges and tackles that don’t appear to be there. The haunting struggle looks as though Rice is fighting himself as a full crowd looks on, cheering and chanting. 

At the end of the film relief finally comes in the form of a hand extending to help Rice from the ground with CALM’s powerful message appearing on screen ‘You don’t have to be alone to feel alone’ - ‘Let’s tackle it together’. The film acts as a metaphor for the mental health struggles people face and the sense of isolation that comes from tackling issues alone. 

The project has been supported by Entourage Sports & Entertainment, Trim Editing, ETC, The Hotspring, Factory Studios, and many others. The campaign was a technically challenging project where high-quality footage of England games along with additional shot footage of Rice playing were used before editors had the task of removing all the other players to achieve the isolating effect. Lighting and interaction edits in post-production make the final effects convincing and unnerving as does the dramatic music and sound design. 

England star Declan Rice is the focus of the action and will be well known to audiences as he competes in the Qatar World Cup this winter. Rice joined CALM as its newest ambassador in November and aims to raise awareness and challenge the stigma around mental health and suicide. Off the pitch, he’s set a goal to get more people talking and looking out for their friends and loved ones, at a time when more people than ever are turning to CALM’s helpline and web chat services for support. 

As a football star Rice resonates with many across the UK and has the ability to appeal to men, an audience that is often the victim of mental health issues but face heightened taboos and stigma that cause hesitancy when it comes to being open about their issues.

Declan Rice explained: “Everyone suffers at different times in their life and there’s so many people out there who feel like there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel - but all it takes is a conversation. It's about having that support network and having people you can speak to. Because no matter who you are or what you’re going through it should be easy to speak to the people you love. Just one conversation can make a positive difference”.

Sky Sports launched the film on Soccer AM and for CALM the context of sport allows the charity to challenge the stigmas around mental health, particularly amongst men who often hide mental health struggles and are worried about appearing weak by speaking up. Where men account for 75% of suicides in the UK, breaking down stigmas will help save lives. 

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