Childline Nobody is Normal: A truly creepy inside story

childlineEsther Rantzen may not be everyone’s cup of tea but the nation should be forever grateful for one of her initiatives. That’s Life? Er, no. Esther, the talk show? Unlikely. The Big Time? Well, we’re sure Sheena Easton is forever grateful. No, it was Rantzen, together with BBC producers Sarah Caplin and Ritchie Cogan, who were the driving force behind Childline.

While benefactor and philanthropist Ian Skipper underwrote the charity for the first three years, Childline joined the NSPCC in February 2006, and has helped millions of kids since launch.

Of course, this year has been tough on everyone, but the charity’s latest campaign, Nobody is Normal, is designed to let young people know that no matter how they feel inside, they are not alone and there is always someone they can talk to.

Childline says that every year it hears from thousands of young people who feel like they don’t fit in or feel “normal” and over the past few months, counsellors have heard from children who are struggling with their body image, sexuality, gender identity, and mental health. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these issues spiked during the first Covid lockdown.

Running across targeted digital and social channels throughout November, the campaign is designed to highlight these concerns to let young people know that it is OK to feel this way, and reassure them that nobody should suffer alone.

In partnership with Blink Productions & Rowdy Films, MSQ’s The Gate has created a stop motion animation which follows the story of a “strange, shadowy creature” disguising itself as a seemingly normal teenager in order to fit in at school.

There are hints that all is not well, with the “creature inside” trying on a few occasions to escape from the “normal” kid, however, the big reveal at the climax of the ad shows that all the kids in the school have also been hiding something inside.

The soundtrack of Radiohead’s Creep – which had so much of the Hollies’ 1972 song The Air That I Breathe “inside” that Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood are credited as co-writers – captures the mood.

Childline marketing lead Grania Hyde-Smith said: “We often hear from young people who feel like they are different. This can be for a number of reasons including bullying, abuse and mental health issues but sometimes, young people just don’t feel comfortable in their own skin.

“The Gate have done a brilliant job of bringing this story to life in a captivating animation, which shows young people that we’re all different and there’s no such thing as ‘being normal’.”

The Gate chief creative officer Lucas Peon added: “Working alongside Childline to help young people feel better in their own skin energised all of us at the agency, as well as our partners.

“It’s a campaign that speaks to children in a way that is natural to them. To walk through the usual walls these types of messages face, we needed an emotional story that intrigued people enough to pay attention and moved them enough to make them reflect and change their perspective.”

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

Given the rave reviews this ad has already received you might expect us to be contrary but to be fair we love it. It’s dark, it’s moody and teens will no doubt love it, too.

One tiny criticism is that you don’t really know it has anything to do with Childline until the last knockings in a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment. Not that we are huge fans of massive, in your face response mechanisms jumping out of the screen but, come on guys, if you want the kids to contact you, you’ve got to make it easier…

Decision Marketing Adometer: A “nothing normal about this” 9½ out of 10

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