How Bell is keeping the momentum going for Let’s Talk

This year's campaign puts a spin on a creative format and uses more social media channels.

Bell is using a new social platform and the full weight of the media giant’s properties to ensure the momentum around its annual Let’s Talk campaign is maintained.

Once again led by ad agency Lg2, the campaign – centred on dispelling stigma around mental illness – features the OOH, print, digital ads and video testimonials that Canadians have come to expect in the weeks leading up to “Let’s Talk” day, which helps fundraise for relevant mental health programs. In new video ads this year, though, the familiar video testimonial format is tweaked slightly. People are discussing the difficulties and impact mental health issues can have, but when the camera pans out, it reveals they were speaking about someone else in their life, with the idea that sharing can make the struggle easier.

“The spots convey a message of hope, while at the same time trying to upend some of the stereotypes around mental illness,” says Rick Seifeddine, SVP of brand at Bell. “It’s not just the person who is sick, but it also impacts the people around them.”

In addition to the traditional advertising, Seifeddine says there has been an increased focus on digital and social channels for this year’s campaign, as that is where the bulk of the conversation for the program happens.

New this year is an execution on Snapchat, where Bell will also contribute five cents any time content is shared or posted on the platform using a Let’s Talk-themed geofilter. On Facebook, users can also add a Let’s Talk filter to their existing profile picture, and every view of the campaign video on the platform will see another five cents donated.

That’s in addition to the fundraising methods of past years, where five cents will be donated for every call made and text message sent today, as well as for every post made using #BellLetsTalk on Twitter and Instagram. The Bell Let’s Talk website has also been updated, with more information about the nature of the program, where the money goes and resources to help people support those living with mental illness.

“The message propagates very quickly and very well on social,” Seifeddine says, noting that #BellLetsTalk was the most used hashtag in Canada in 2016, as well as the most used globally on last year’s Lets Talk day. “We’ve added Snapchat because you have to go where the audiences are going, especially youth. We’ve also added substantially to the depth of material available online so people, when they see the ads and are prompted to the website, can join the dialogue right away.”

Media Experts handled the media buy for this year’s campaign.

In addition to events and announcements being hosted across the country, Bell is also enlisting the full strength of its range of media properties to get the message out about the campaign, with conventional and specialty channels and radio stations airing some form of content related to the campaign and the broader issue of mental illness stigma, such as segments featuring the spokespeople. The “Bell Let’s Talk Day Special,” hosted by spokesperson Howie Mandel, will air this evening across CTV’s TV and digital channels, and will be available on CraveTV following its network broadcast.

“We’ve done things like this every year, but we firing on most of our cylinders in the past. We’re firing on more than 12 this year,” Seifeddine says. “It is just about maintaining momentum by making sure the message gets in front of people. The message is not compelling not because it’s well-advertised. It’s compelling because every person can relate to it.”

This message of the campaign is left intentionally broad, opting to make it more relatable to as many people as possible instead of diving into specific issues within the mental health space. That is part of why the online elements have been bulked up, to show all the different projects that have received funding, from research programs at universities to the Let’s Talk Community Fund, which distributes $1 million in grants to various mental health programs and initiatives across the country throughout the year.

“When you add up the full contribution of all of these segments, it’s a program that is broad in its message but also the different areas it touches,” Seifeddine says. “It’s not just about raising money on that day, we consult with mental health communities throughout the year to make sure our messages have the best impact and fund the projects that are needed most.”