Rates of anxiety and depression have risen dramatically in the US during the pandemic. In response, Code3 partnered with MHC to create a measurable social media ad campaign targeting Gen Z with the goal of inspiring hope during Mental Health Awareness Month and destigmatizing mental health with direct ties to resources.
Through our research, we identified a critical need to provide young people in the US with strategies to improve their day-to-day emotional wellbeing and manage feelings of hopelessness. We formed our creative strategy around the idea that all feelings are valid, shared, and only temporary, which is often overlooked by young adults.
We executed five unique ads across Facebook and Instagram that were designed to provide people with better ways to identify, understand, regulate and cope with a wide spectrum of emotions. To get the attention of a Gen Z audience, we leveraged more native-feeling creative elements (like an iMessage conversation between two friends), Calm App-inspired animations, vibrant color choices, and interactive exercises like a carousel of Daily Affirmations.
We based the look and feel not only on MHC’s branding, but we also paired the emotions mentioned in the ads to their corresponding colors on Dr. Marc Brackett’s Mood Meter, which is a system of colors and emotions used to visually represent how we’re feeling. Based on the message, each piece of creative ended on a strong CTA linking out to tools and additional resources to provide users with additional, targeted support.
The campaigns reached over 19 million people with 96 million impressions on Facebook and Instagram. Through a brand lift study tied to the campaign, the team identified a statistically significant lift in attitudes towards mental health based on survey results. In total, at least 564,000 people are estimated to have shifted attitudes towards key help-seeking behaviors because of this campaign.
For the general population, the campaign media resulted in a +3.3pt increase in people's’ beliefs that taking care of emotional wellbeing is important. For the mental health lookalike audience, the campaign media resulted in a +2.3pt increase in people's’ willingness to seek resources for emotional wellbeing.
These outcomes are meaningful because both campaigns were successful in achieving statistically significant results in improving key attitudes about help-seeking behaviors, particularly for the general population who can often have a neutral or negative reaction to mental health content. The focus on accessible messaging and broad language also performed better with the general population.