Post Thumb
Click on the image to watch the Video.

There is an increasing tendency among brands to talk about mental well-being these days but given the sensitivity and seriousness of the topic, it would not be prudent or wise to treat mental health as just another theme around which they create content.

In fact, these are times when more and more brands should come forward to help consumers fight the mental distress caused by the second wave of the Covid pandemic.

In this backdrop, on May 28, 2021, BuzzInContent conducted its third Live session on the topic, ‘What brands must know about creating content around mental well-being’. The session panellists were Smita Murarka, Chief Marketing Officer, Duroflex, Ruchika Varma, Chief Marketing Officer, Future Generali India Insurance, Piali Dasgupta, Senior Vice-President, Marketing, Columbia Pacific Communities and Anuj Gosalia, Co-Founder and CEO, Terribly Tiny Tales.

Talking about the importance creating content on mental health, especially in the unprecedented times we are living in, Varma explained how purpose-led brands have understood the cultural context around mental health challenges that India is facing. She said, “Five years ago, WHO said nine million Indians suffer from some kind of mental health issue. By 2020, this number became one-fifth of the population of India. Covid-19 only made it worse. A lot of people have lost their loved ones. Cases of panic attack, insomnia and anxiety have only been increasing.”

But even after becoming an issue of enormous proportions, mental health still remains a taboo topic in India, she said. A lot of people don’t believe that they have issues. They don’t seek help even if they believe they have a mental illness. Those who go out to seek help, don’t get the support of their friends and family.

“The purpose-led brands are trying to bridge the gap by initiating multiple initiatives, creating awareness and education around the topic. There are brands creating content on the topic, but not many are doing it currently. At least the conversations have started,” added Varma.

Murarka of Duroflex said the biggest mistake brands make while taking this route is that at times they get mindless in today’s era of social media marketing, where moment marketing has become a fad. She said, “Brands just try to fit in because everyone is talking about it. Even if a brand is doing that, it needs to clearly spell out the reason why it is talking about this topic. Mental health shouldn’t be a topic where brands look at trends, statistics and create content on mental health because it will fetch engagement.”

People generally tend to use terms such as depression and anxiety very loosely but forget or do not know that these are clinical conditions. Brands, which have the power to influence minds, too end up using such terminologies quite loosely. In such a context, Dasgupta of Columbia Pacific Communities emphasised the need for brands to do proper research and homework on mental health before taking this route. “Brands will look ignorant to consumers if they use words like anxiety and depression very loosely and will be called out on social media. Such brands will end up being alienated from a large number of people going through some kind of mental illness. While there is no real reason for depression, sadness has a reason to cause that emotion,” she said.

She said brand managers may not understand the technicality of the topic that much but that doesn’t justify ignorance. “In today’s time, one can go to the internet, watch a video that differentiates between depression and sadness. I would urge the brand custodians to be extremely vigilant about these terms. A brand will do a grave disservice to the cause, which is already underserved in our country if it uses words such as depression for sadness.”

Gosalia of Terribly Tiny Tales talked about the importance of brands associating themselves with purpose-led content. “Right now brands are hyper-active because of the increase in time spent by consumers on phones and social media. There is a challenge of being looked mindless and tone-deaf. But if they are wise and thoughtful enough, this is the time to speak on so many things. If they have money, they should create content on meaningful topics and come across as purposeful brands.”

Verma of Future Generali India Insurance explained how for content around mental health to become mainstream, it has to be relatable, palatable and engaging, and not necessarily be patronising or serious.

“Because mental health is a serious topic, one tends to go down a very serious and emotional route as far as content is concerned. Emotional connect doesn’t only have to be created through very serious, strong emotional content. There are other emotional codes that can create a connection. If you talk about a serious topic seriously, you will lose your audience very quickly. One can always opt for non-serious tonality to deliver the message but not take away the seriousness of the message. It is definitely challenging, but possible.”

By featuring celebrities and macro-influencers, brands often try to increase a campaign’s reach and make it look larger than life.

Talking about how a few brands have created successful relatable and realistic campaigns without using celebrities and macro-influencers, Dasgupta gave three examples and explained why it should be mostly about picking up real-life stories and ensuring it has got a larger appeal. 

The first example she gave was of Hindu’s front page ad on World Mental Health Awareness Day last year. “It was an entirely a long-form copy ad, which we have almost forgotten about the magic it can create.” The second campaign she talked about was the Prega News postpartum depression campaign. “A lot of women go through postpartum depression and to make it a part of mainstream advertising was very brave of the brand,” said Dasgupta. The third example she shared was of Deepika Padukone’s Live, Love, Laugh Foundation campaign ‘Dobara puchho’ and ‘Not ashamed’.

There is often constant pressure on marketers to fulfil business objectives through every marketing activity they undertake. But Murarka warned that if brands and marketers want to fetch short-term business goals, then this is not the topic they should dwell in. There are other engaging and interesting topics they can associate with.

She said, “A brand has to be purpose-led to latch on to a topic like this. If it is are not anywhere remotely related to this cause and it isn’t the purpose either then stay away from it. Marketing is not selling only. There is a difference between selling and marketing. Where the marketer doesn’t know the difference between the two, he drives the business objective through every marketing activity. A lot of large purpose-led brands know the difference between the two. In the end, your product also needs to speak for yourself.”

Given the challenges associated with creating content on mental well-being, not many brands take this route. But if a brand takes this route, just the act of showing up will give them top-of-the-mind recall, said Gosalia. “If you speak a language that is human, it is enough today. One doesn’t have to be looking out for the most genius idea all the time. You can just have light-hearted conversations around the topic,” he said.

To know more about what the panellists discussed during the session, click the link below: