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Special Project

Special Project
From the 9th Annual Shorty Awards

Lighter Blue

Entered in Facebook Presence


We wanted to take depression out of the darkness and make it something talked about openly, in an environment that alleviates the isolation that patients feel.

Our objectives for the Lighter Blue unbranded disease education campaign was singularly focused: social engagement.

Based Facebook's benchmarks in their ad-buying tool, we estimated:

Strategy and Execution

Who's Blue?

We created an illustrated character named "Blue" to educate depression sufferers with humor, but whose struggle with depression was wholly relatable. Blue has an endearing quality, despite the struggle to function with daily tasks because of the multiple symptoms of depression (tiredness, difficulty concentrating, etc). With vulnerability on full display, Blue conveys the emotions of frustration and discomfort that's felt with the struggle. Blue's dog and cat give unconditional love as Blue bravely lives with depression. Blue also provides messages of positivity and encouragement that are fully supportive and meaningful to the depression community.

Blue also acts as the voice for the brand's educational efforts, providing valuable information to patients: health tips, motivation, inspiration, and news.

And while the campaign started out as content we hoped people would engage with, it rapidly grew into something greater: a living, breathing support community for people with depression, whose membership is intensely loyal and exceptionally open, often reaching out to support each other whole-heartedly—even though they're all strangers.

A counterintuitive choice for connecting

Mass media may be of the quickest and best way to make your brand top of mind, but it isn't necessarily the best way to get people to respond to a message and see they need to do more for their depression. So we made a brave choice and opted for a more social, engaging platform. In April 2016, the Lighter Blue campaign featuring Blue was rolled out via Facebook. This may seem counterintuitive. We also were not sure sufferers of a disease that's been stigmatized would do much more than lurk on our page, let alone publicly share, comment, and like on content. But it would generate the broadest reach available to us. And allow us to communicate messages about multiple symptoms to the broadest swath of sufferers, so we could connect content about the right symptom to the right sufferer. But most importantly, it counters the sense of isolation sufferers feel, making it easy to see that others also have the same struggle AND make it easier to get over it.

Working with Facebook allowed us to target people who engage with depression content with promoted posts. With a simple like, users would have content delivered to them regularly and be able to comment and share with anyone they wished. Additionally, a website would accompany the effort to house all content and drive to branded properties within a few clicks.

With both properties, the Facebook page and website, the campaign would help people understand that, "depression is more than sadness."


Based Facebook's benchmarks in their ad-buying tool, we estimated:

And the cherry on top: We're now the second most liked, unbranded disease education page on Facebook. A single post of Blue has generated over 1 million likes—incredible stuff that diseased people don't talk about.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

McCann HumanCare, Takeda Pharmaceuticals/Lundbeck USA


Entry Credits