Our Stance in Mental Health Awareness Week


Welcome to your your newest installment of Our Stance, an irregular - but hopefully welcome - insight into the views of the Strategy and Insight Team; this edition focusing on Mental Health during #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. Do give us a shout if there’s anything you’re keen to hear more about. Or if we’ve said something you disagree with. We love a wee fight.

Mental Health Wellbeing Social Media Advert

Refreshing or leaving a bad taste? 
by Maddy Sim and Moira Garden

At the beginning of the month, Burger King unveiled their new advertising campaign "Feel Your Way" with the strapline "No One Is Happy All The Time". Recently, they introduced the Feel Your Way burgers, taking a pot-shot at Happy Meals. Maddy and Moira share their thoughts on this... 


Maddy Sim

I feel (quite) bad about what I’m going to say here – I hate the general feel of this campaign.

How playground can you get, going after the name ‘happy meal’ and turning it into commentary on mental health? In primary school one of the ‘cool kids’ used to decree what had fallen out of fashion based on who’d started wearing what (so long kappa tracksuits, arrivederci hair mascara) – this kind of feels like a branded attempt at the same. Stop trying to make ‘happy meal’ happen Gretchen.

I hate where this campaign appears to have come from – how can we slag off our main competitor and make a landgrab as the fast food outlet that understands mental health issues all at once? Petty and mercenary forces working as one.

In the interest of balance, here’s a few things I don’t hate:

1) The advert itself – the song got stuck in my head. It felt more like a music video than anything, but it’s not horrendous.

2) The message itself. Funnily enough, I’m ok with people not feeling ok…

And 3), actually, brands talking about social issues, when it feels natural and helpful. Brands have huge reach and resources, if they can use that to be a force for good then that’s just splendid. Plus, it’s not like they have any real legislative power – unlike some people who peddle awareness campaigns… 

I’m not against it working out well for a brand’s bottom line either – I work in marketing.

It’s the tone of the campaign I hate, and the fact that it feels borne out of competition. It feels tone deaf – take this line from the press release;

With the Real Meals campaign, the Burger King brand believes in authenticity and welcomes all guests of all moods.

Oh, well thank you very much Burger King.

I dislike it so much I’m even forgoing my usual ‘if it helps one person…’ disclaimer. I mean, obviously if it does that’s great. But this campaign – which, let’s not forget, uses mental health issues to sell burgers, leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Luckily, I’m more a McDonalds girl anyway.


Moira Garden

With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, Burger King have released a timely campaign named ‘Feel Your Way’.

Teaming up with Mental Health America, the short film tackles raw, relatable, real-life experiences by using dark comedy to lighten the mood. The advert primarily focusses on the ‘millennial’ audience, using attractive, young actors and incorporating phrases such as ‘ghosting’, something that the Tinder generation can relate to.

Right now, our news feeds are full of content relating to mental health and conversations about how to raise the profile of individual wellbeing. While I think this is positive (and for once, think certain influencers are using their platform to do good), I can’t help but feel Burger King are jumping on the bandwagon of a high-profile, important issue that’s incredibly sensitive.

When I first saw this advert, I was intrigued and thought it could be a platform for good. But the more times I watch it and the more I’ve thought about it, the more negative views I have.

While I can accept that some brands have a reason to discuss mental health, junk food, that’s both addictive and extremely unhealthy (for body and brain), does not. Let’s be honest, Burger King’s primary agenda is to sell more burgers, with the second to have a dig at McDonald’s ‘Happy Meal’ offering (something I don’t think is particularly obvious).

Of course, like with any brand, if Burger King encourages more people to openly discuss mental health, then it’s a positive step. My worry is that a topic that it so sensitive, and to those who might be suffering, this might be disrespectful and be seen to be glamourizing a delicate issue.

Rather than suggesting people turn to a bacon double cheeseburger as an emotional response, it would have been great for Burger King to be a bit more socially responsible, using their profile within the community to tackle mental health issues directly.


Social Media, Samaritans and Self-Harm
by Maddy Sim and Jonni Bottomley

Facebook, Google, Instagram and Snapchat will work alongside the Samaritans to try to tackle content that promotes suicide and self-harm. Maddy gives her thoughts on the new initiative (along with special guest Jonni, Marketing Executive in our Edinburgh office)



Maddy Sim

This all feels good – experts are involved, collaboration is afoot, and regulation is being used to curb the (very) harmful effects of social media.

Those negative effects are pretty pervasive, and this move only seeks to address one of social media’s ills. But it’s a big one. As long as actions come out of it – actions that the social media giants are held accountable to – I’d say this can only be a positive step.


Jonni Bottomley

News that representatives of four of the ‘big’ social media brands look to tackle self harm and suicidal videos with Samaritans is a crucial step forward in online safety, which we need to get behind.

The sceptic in me wonders about the policing of this, with the all too real possibility of content slipping through the virtual net but the focus is well and truly there, which can only be a good thing.

The majority of us use Social Media on a daily basis, it’s part of day to day life – but unfortunately so is negativity like the aforementioned content and thoughts. But with initiatives like this and looking to crack down on other well profiled effects like body image concerns with public, charity and corporate buy in – I have hope that we can make the online landscape a safer place in the years to come.

Mental Health Wellbeing Social Media Advert
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