Case Study: Mind and Rethink

The charities recruited celebrities including Ulrika Jonsson to front the Time to Change campaign. But did it work?

Ulrika Jonsson appears in the Time to Change campaign
Ulrika Jonsson appears in the Time to Change campaign

Mental health charities Mind and Rethink launched the Time to Change campaign, designed to change attitudes to mental health problems, in October 2008.

Earlier this year, the charities ran adverts that featured celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Ulrika Jonsson and Ruby Wax talking about their experiences of mental health problems.

Which media were used?

The campaign was featured on posters on the London Underground, in print media, on national TV and radio and on beer-mats. "We wanted to test a range of media types to see which were the most effective ways of getting our message across," says Sue Baker, director of Time to Change. "We negotiated £500,000 of free advertising space - an upside of the recession."

Communicating the message

The charities spent more than six months conducting research before developing the campaign. "We were trying to open up new conversations about mental health, so we had to make sure we got the message and tone right," says Baker.

"People don't want to feel like they're being blamed for their attitudes to mental health; they respond better to a tone of inclusivity. We produced a report called Stigma Shout, which showed people with mental health problems felt friends, neighbours and colleagues were often subconsciously saying or doing the wrong things. So we realised we had to target the 'subconscious stigmatisers'.'"

Costs and practicalities

The charity spent £1m, which came from grants from the Big Lottery Fund and Comic Relief.

Did it work?

The charity spent £2m on an evaluation of every aspect of the campaign. Baker says the target was to reach 25 million people through the campaign, but it actually reached between 32 and 35 million. She says the aim was to generate 30,000 unique visitors to the charity's website; it actually generated 56,000. In future campaigns, the charity will repeat its use of TV advertising, press advertising and beer-mats, which it says were the most effective ways of getting the message across.

Kaye Wiggins


Aline Reed, Head of creative, Bluefrog

This campaign demonstrates the pros and cons of using celebrities.

When it comes to getting noticed, the ads seem to have done pretty well. But will they change anyone's outlook? In terms of credibility, they vary hugely. There's lovely Stephen Fry and articulate Ruby Wax in one corner, doing their bit to break down the stigma of mental health. In the other, there's Ulrika Jonsson and Patsy Palmer, who are rather less convincing, probably because they talk about themselves so often it's hard to care what they say.

The call to action tells the reader, "you can help". Great, but another effect of using celebrities is that it's hard to see how you can help - because, as they say themselves, they don't actually need help. This could be why the latest online films for the campaign feature ordinary people like you and me.

Creativity: 2
Delivery: 3
Total: 5 out of 10

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