Our respect for both women’s football and suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) has been well documented, so when a new campaign lands which features, it is fair to say we are going to be all over it like a rash.
Timed to coincide with the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the new push features England and Chelsea midfielder Fran Kirby and aims to tackle the rising rates of suicide in young women under 25.
Over the course of this summer’s biggest football tournament – which runs from July 20 to August 20 – it is estimated 14 young women in the UK will take their own lives, with recent ONS data revealing that one woman under the age of 25 dies by suicide every two days.
“Unseen Signals”, created by VMLY&R London, is in a similar vein to “The Invisible Opponent” campaigns, which featured Declan Rice and Tyson Fury battling hidden demons as a metaphor for the mental health struggles that people face and the sense of isolation that comes from tackling them alone.
This film aims to challenge the stigma and stereotypes that prevent women from being supported, and help equip people with practical tools to take action and help save a life, as almost a fifth (19%) of young women aged between 18 to 34 in the past five years have felt either dismissed or invisible when speaking up about a mental health crisis.
Directed by Natalie Rae through Object & Animal, the spot features Kirby going down in agony on the pitch after being fouled, hand raised. She needs help. But the game continues around her. The whistle isn’t blown. She calls out. The game continues. She’s invisible. The players, the referee and the crowd are oblivious. There is no help coming.
The work draws on parallels faced by young women who are suicidal, whose calls for help can all too often be misunderstood or go unrecognised. The film ends with the message “no signal for help should go unseen. Your support could help save a life”.
The film was crafted using a mix of existing gameplay and green screen moments of Fran calling for help and struggling. Key angles were carefully captured, matching focal length and camera zooms to the real game footage.
Kirby – who is missing out on this World Cup due to injury – is CALM’s newest ambassador, and aims to use her platform to shine a light on the issue, with Unseen Signals running throughout the football tournament online, and on ITV, Sky, Channel 4, Pearl & Dean Cinemas and The Outernet, with further outdoor and print executions going live this week. Media planning and buying is being handled by 7Stars.
A mural, painted by French street artist Zabou, will also be revealed next week near the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham and will run for five weeks.
Kirby said: “The statistics are hard to digest, as these tragic numbers can be prevented. That’s why I’ve teamed up with CALM to shine a light on this issue, and to tackle the stigma that prevents young women from getting the support they need when they’re struggling. Like any team, we all have our part to play in making sure young women feel seen when they reach out.”
CALM marketing director Dipika Saggi added: “Being a part of culture has always been important to CALM, it’s where we believe we can have the biggest impact in suicide prevention. So at a time when young women are front and centre on the world’s sporting stage, we knew we had to be a part of the conversation.
“Suicide in young women is the highest it has been since records began, and something that we as society need to tackle now. Research showed that young women often feel unseen when they are struggling so through this campaign CALM hopes to provide the support and tools to ensure that no woman has to face her struggles alone.”
So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?
Can there be anything more tragic than suicide? Not in our book, and you only have to see the figures for both young men and young women – there are estimated to be nearly 130 youngsters who take their lives each week in the UK – to realise there is a lot of pain in this world.
While many of us are able to tackle life’s troubles with the support of friends and family, too many others simply don’t have that safety net. CALM is doing a fantastic job in highlighting these issues; let’s just hope Fran Kirby’s involvement brings greater awareness to what is one of the greatest tragedies of the modern world.
Decision Marketing Adometer: A “top corner” 10 out of 10