CASSIES Silver: Bell’s ‘Talk’ gets louder

The telecom and broadcast provider maintained its connection with consumers on mental health.

This story appears in the February/March 2016 issue of strategy.

Silver: Long-Term Success

Situation Analysis:

The good citizenship imperative that brands and corporations face to be socially engaged has left consumers overwhelmed and bombarded with messages, an issue compounded when multiple brands get behind the same cause. Few brands are actively involved in the cause that they support by going beyond the superficial and getting involved with the root of the problem, so how can consumers see any meaning in a brand asking them to support its cause? How could Bell stand out in the crowded cause industry and, in particular, become actively synonymous with its chosen cause of mental health?

Insight & Strategy:

Consumers’ lives are already busy. People don’t have time to shop around for the right brand supporting the right cause, regardless of their degree of motivation. In addition, supporting a cause often requires them to step out of their routine to actually contribute to the cause in one way or another. Simply put, donating has to be effortless. Equally, any strategy had to build on Bell’s core business: connecting people. These two goals could be achieved by getting people to “talk” about mental health in a way that automatically triggered donating, without any supplementary effort.


Running since January 2011 across Canada with an annual investment of $1 to $2 million, “Let’s Talk” ran across TV, radio, OOH, print, online and social media. In year one (2011), Six-time Olympic medallist Clara Hughes established Feb. 9 as “Bell Let’s Talk Day” where every call, text and retweet triggered a five-cent donation by Bell. In year two (2012), two high profile spokespeople who had also overcome severe cases of mental illness were added, while in year three (2013), the campaign was extended ahead of “Bell Let’s Talk Day” with a two-phased approach: awareness building followed by engagement to participate. In year four (2014), the website was completely redesigned to allow for user-generated content and provided a downloadable toolkit that offered guidelines to help start a conversation around mental health. To prevent campaign fatigue in year five (2015), new spokespeople Howie Mandel, Michael Landsberg and Mary Walsh were added.


During the campaign period, top of mind awareness of Bell’s support of mental health increased from 35% to 62%, making Bell the leading brand associated with supporting mental health. In total, the campaign leveraged nearly 500 million communications, increasing from 66 million to 122 million interactions over the campaign, which generated almost $24 million in Bell donations.

Social media participation allowed Bell to generate a significant lift in its followers on Twitter by 56% and Facebook accounts by 50%. In 2015, 4,775,708 tweets were reported on a single day making #BellLetsTalk the number one trending worldwide hashtag. Since the initiative first launched, 17% more people believe that “Bell Let’s Talk Day” encourages a discussion on mental health.

Cause & Effect:

Apart from the yearly Bell Let’s Talk initiative, no marketing promotions or communications activities to grow volume in text messages and/or calls, or other social media initiatives driven by Bell were in market. The spending level was equivalent each year.


Client: Bell Canada

SVP, Brand: Rick Seifeddine

Director, brand strategy: Élaine Bisonnette

Associate director, brand: François D’Amour

Agency: lg2

VP, CD: Marc Fortin

CDs: Nicolas Dion, Marilou Aubin

ADs: Patrick Beauchemin, Thibault Gehard, Alexandre Jourdain, Patrick Rochon, Simon Touzin, Jennifer Varvaresso

CWs: Éric Beaudin, Sylvain Dufresne, Stuart Macmillan, Jean-François Perreault, Simon Touzin, Frédéric Tremblay

Strategic planning: Rafik Belmesk, Sabrina Côté, Alexis Robin

Account services: Samia Chebeir, Safia Dodard, Nataly Lemyre, Alexandre Normand, Thalie Poulin, Elsa Vilarinho

Agency producers: Isabelle Fonta, Claudia Lemire

Print/web production: lg2fabrique

Photographers: Jean Malek, Raphaël Ouelet, John Londono

Director: Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais, Quatre Zéro Un

DOP: Sara Mishara

Sound and music: BLVD, Boogie Studio

Post-production: Vision Globale

Illustrator: François Boutet

Media agency: Médias Experts