Car stalling? You call the mechanic. Using the blowdryer zaps the power in your house? You give the electrician a ring. But what happens when you yourself feel a little out of whack? For many Americans, their first instinct may not be to connect with a counselor, but online therapy provider BetterHelp wants to send the message that asking for help for your personal struggles should be part of your regular routine too.
A new campaign from DiMassimo Goldstein delivers that message with a series of comedic ads that depict people refusing a helping hand even though they’re in dire need of it.
One spot, for example, features a pair of skydivers mid-flight. One has parachute issues—he doesn’t have one. But when his partner asks him to double up, he simply replies, “I’m good! I don’t want to detract from your experience.” He then waves her off and who knows what his fate will be.
Another ad takes place in a gym, where a guy lies helpless on a weight bench, trapped under a massive barbell. A fellow lifter comes by. “Yo, dude—you need some help?” he asks.
“Don’t worry about me,” bench guy says. “You don’t know my family, man. My parents, brothers, sisters or cousins ever found out? … I’ll figure it out myself.”
According to DiMassimo Goldstein Executive Creative Director Paul Fix, the challenge was to destigmatize—as well as normalize— the notion of therapy for Americans who could benefit from it—a quarter of the U.S. population.
“More than 43 million Americans struggle with mental illness, and countless more could use someone to talk to during stressful moments in their lives,” added Creative Director Chris Martin. “Yet most people don’t get the help they need. We want to [show] that mental health is just as important as physical well-being.”
The campaign idea emerged out of a team brainstorm. “Our summer copywriting intern, Bingxin Zhang said, ‘If your house is on fire, you call the fire department,’" Fix recalled. Then the agency’s senior copywriter, Rachel Koren, and Creative Directors Martin and Matty Poitras spun that idea around to “what if your house was on fire and you didn’t call the fire department?" Fix said. "Because that’s what people suffering with mental health are doing when they don’t seek therapy."
Though in recent years, mental health and therapy have become subjects more people are comfortable with, “this emerging acceptance has shined a brighter light on the holdouts, who come in many forms,” Poitras said. Among them are “those in high profile roles who think they need to ‘keep it together,’ various communities where therapy hasn’t found its way into the culture, and of course young to middle-aged men of all stripes.” The campaign doubles down on trying to reach such individuals.
“Our consumer research indicated all of this is fuelled by the fear of appearing weak,” Poitras said. “But the reality is, it requires courage and strength to ask for help. This is the core communication—that all of us will need help at some point in our lives, and Better Help makes it easier for people to connect with a licensed therapist.”
The spots, directed by Andrew Jasperson of Imperial Woodpecker and cut out of Arcade Editorial, are running on paid social and broadcast. To extend the message, BetterHelp tapped influencers and content creators to develop their own videos riffing on the concept of the main ads.
“We need to show that it’s not just okay to seek help if you’re suffering; it’s just the thing you should do,” said Fix.