U.K. broadcaster ITV is putting the spotlight on teenage mental health by placing the issue at front and center of one of its biggest primetime shows, "Britain's Got Talent."
In a campaign devised by its agency, Uncommon, ITV interrupted the show, hosted by duo Ant and Dec, on Saturday with the shocking message that "Anxiety and depression in children has risen by 48% since 2004." The presenters encouraged viewers to take the time to talk to each other, as show judges including Simon Cowell fell silent.
This was followed by a commercial break in which five advertisers -- Dunelm, Oral-B, Gillette, Seat and Network Rail -- ran ads with no sound or dialogue in which people communicate only via placards. All the films were directed by Nez through Pulse Films.
The ad break also included a hero film, seen here, which featured the stars of some ITV's top shows also in complete silence. They included talkshow host Jonathan Ross, TV and weather presenters and actors from shows such as "Vera" and "Coronation Street." The silent break ended with a call to viewers to "tune back in" to their family's story.
The silent ad break kicked off a wider campaign that will continue in the run up to World Mental Health Day (Oct.10) and will also include radio, website content and print.
"By disrupting one of our biggest shows this Saturday night, we want to reach a wide family audience and create the space to start a national conversation about mental wellness,"says Carolyn McCall, ITV's CEO, in a statement.
Lucy Jameson, co-founder at Uncommon, adds: "All the statistics say there’s a rising problem amongst today’s kids, with people spending more time than ever ‘together alone’. We wanted to make something that went beyond advertising. Changing programming. Involving talent across the whole channel. And even pausing its most iconic shows to provoke important conversations across the nation, that’s what ‘More than TV’ is all about.”
Encouraging people to open up about their mental health issues is a popular theme for British advertisers at present. Spots by the likes of razor brand Harry's, and last week insurance brand AXA have highlighted anxiety and depression while charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) has highlighted male mental health with several high profile campaigns including its disturbing suicide sculpture on the roof of a building.
This week, Public Health England has also debuted its own PSA, written by Richard Curtis and directed by Rankin featuring the voices of, among others, Prince William and Prince Harry and their respective wives Kate and Meghan.