CALM ‘The Invisible Opponent 2’: Back of the net, son

declan riceAs regular readers of this column will know, we are big fans of the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM); after all, anything that can raise awareness and funds to try to tackle the high rate of male suicides in the UK – 125 deaths a week and counting – needs everyone’s support.

Enter a new campaign, timed to coincide with the Qatar World Cup which sees agencies AMV BBDO, Seven Stones and Pretty Bird join forces to create work that is designed to challenge stereotypes and help people open up about how they are feeling.

The campaign is the result of a new partnership between the agencies, which last year launched “The Invisible Opponent” campaign – featuring heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury fighting an, er, invisible opponent in the ring.

Entitled “The Invisible Opponent 2”, this film features West Ham and England footballer Declan Rice also battling invisible opponents, this time on the pitch, going through flying tackles and blocks, as well as surging runs in to the box all alone as a full crowd looks on.

Relief finally comes at the end as a hand extends to help him from the ground with CALM’s powerful message appearing on screen “You don’t have to be alone to feel alone”, followed by a rallying cry “Let’s tackle it together”. The film is a metaphor for the mental health struggles that people face and the sense of isolation that comes from tackling them alone.

Rice, who is playing in his first World Cup, joined CALM as its latest ambassador earlier this month, and aims to raise awareness and challenge the stigma around mental health and suicide.

Off the pitch, he has set a goal to get more people talking and looking out for their friends and loved ones, at a time when more people than ever are turning to CALM’s helpline and web chat services for support.

Activity includes TV, outdoor, social media and media partnerships, and has been supported by Entourage Sports & Entertainment, Trim Editing, ETC, The Hotspring, Factory Studios, and many others.

Rice said: “Everyone suffers at different times in their life and there’s so many people out there who feel like there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel – but all it takes is a conversation. It’s about having that support network and having people you can speak to. Because no matter who you are or what you’re going through it should be easy to speak to the people you love. Just one conversation can make a positive difference”.

CALM chief executive Simon Gunning said: “In the UK 125 people die by suicide every week – with 75% of those deaths being male. That’s not ok, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Now, more than ever, we must continue to challenge the stigma that prevents people from seeking the help they need.

“Anyone can feel lonely, no matter your age, gender or background. But everyone experiences that feeling in different ways. That’s why we need to tackle it together. And show people, however you feel right now, you’re never alone. There’s always someone on your side – and CALM is always here.”

So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?

Well, there will no doubt be some people wondering why CALM has opted for a professional footballer, especially as they are often portrayed as overpaid pampered ponces who throw their toys out of the pram at the first opportunity.

But for every Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro there’s a Justin Fashanu, who took his own life in 1998 not long after becoming the first professional footballer in the world to reveal he was gay. Quite what he would have made of the FIFA World Cup being hosted in a country where homosexuality is seen as a “disease of the mind” is anyone’s guess.

Still, that is why CALM’s work is as important as ever, and anything that can tackle the issue of loneliness gets a big thumbs up from us.

Decision Marketing Adometer: A “Rice, Rice, Baby” 10 out of 10

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