Sobeys sweats the small stuff in a campaign for mental health

The grocer's annual fundraiser shows how even small mental health challenges can grow into a heavy burden for youth.

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Sobeys is back and boosting Family of Support, a child and youth mental health initiative it launched in 2020.

A new TV spot uses a cloud hanging over a young boy’s head to externally visualize the mental health struggles he is going through on the inside. It’s meant to demonstrate mental health challenges, even “minor” ones, don’t solve themselves – and even become exacerbated when they aren’t addressed.

This is the third in-store fundraising campaign Sobeys has run for Family of Support, in partnership with its own charitable foundation and the Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundations. Canadians can donate to the in-store fundraising campaign at Empire and Sobeys retail locations in English Canada from July 26 until August 10. All funds raised will support child and youth mental health programs at local children’s hospitals.

Erika DeHaas, VP of marketing communications at Sobeys, tells strategy that this year’s campaign is informed by the fact that mental health challenges affect over a million children and youth every day, according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

“With this in mind, our new TV spot highlights how mental health challenges can be difficult to see and can grow over time without early intervention,” DeHaas says.

Although Family of Support began just before an unprecedented spike in demand for mental health care, this partnership was being designed well before the pandemic, DeHaas notes. “It was not a reaction to a crisis, but a strategic investment with a long-term vision,” she adds.

This year’s campaign aims to build an emotional connection with Canadians, not only through powerful creative, but also by leveraging real stories from patient ambassadors who have been impacted by Family of Support. Its group of patient ambassadors who will not only be featured in an in-store fundraising campaign, but also on Sobeys’ owned social channels to encourage donations.

The marketing campaign, which spans TV, OLV, and social was developed by the Sobeys’ marketing team under the leadership of DeHaas and Sandra Sanderson, SVP of marketing. FCB Canada handled creative, with North Strategic on PR, XMC on experiential and UM on media buying. This is also the first time Sobeys has run TV creative to promote Family of Support since the 2020 launch, which will be integrated with radio spots in Ontario and Alberta, DeHaas says.

Additionally, through email communication to customers participating in our loyalty program, Sobeys will be sharing information about the campaign and thanking customers who donate.