Inside ITV’s Project 84 which put male suicide on the UK’s political agenda
ITV won in the Best Stunt or Live Event category at The Drum Social Purpose Awards 2019 for its ‘Project 84’ campaign. In this case study, the team behind the activation reveals the challenges faced and the strategies used to deliver this eye-catching project.
ITV is an international producer broadcaster, reaching 80% of the UK’s TV-watching population each week. On average, one million viewers watch ITV’s morning show, This Morning, every day. With this reach, ITV has a powerful opportunity to encourage action on important social issues.
84 men commit suicide each week in the UK, 12 men every day. ITV, CALM and Adam&Eve DDB wanted to bring this tragic reality to life in a standalone stunt - Project 84 - launched in March 2018 live on This Morning.
The stunt had two main aims:
- Get the nation talking openly about suicide and taking action to help themselves and others.
- Get the UK Parliament acting on this issue, and incite structural change, through a demonstrable change in government policy.
ITV, CALM, and creative agency Adam & Eve DDB developed an idea to execute an attention-grabbing visual stunt.
Sculptor Mark Jenkins and his collaborator Sandra Fernandez created replica statues of 84 British men who had tragically taken their own lives. Sponsored by male grooming brand Harry's Razors, the sculptures were made during workshops with bereaved family and friends of the deceased and were dressed using the deceased’s real clothes. 72 statues featured on ITV's Southbank tower and 12 on the This Morning studio next door, representing the 12 men who kill themselves daily.
The full ITV brand was used to execute and raise awareness of this stunt, from its buildings to its programmes to its social channels.
The campaign launched live on This Morning. Over three days family and friends of the twelve men on their studio roof were interviewed, exploring their characters and troubles, and introducing viewers to the support networks and helplines available to help.
Experts from our project partners CALM offered professional and personal advice on This Morning, and took over the Southbank walkway with advice on good mental health and who to contact for support.
A petition calling the UK government to appoint a minister for suicide prevention was hosted on the campaign’s website along with stories of the 84 men told by their family and friends.
In addition, ITV and CALM launched a PR campaign across media and social outlets throughout the week.
22 million people saw the campaign in the UK. It generated 36,000 Twitter mentions and was picked up by media outlets as far away as Australia. The net value of the airtime ITV dedicated to the campaign was £1,536,618.
400,000 people signed the online petition calling for the government to appoint a minister for suicide prevention. The campaign put the issue of male suicide on the political agenda when Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK opposition, passionately spoke about it in the House of Commons and urged the government to act.
Soon afterwards, the UK Prime Minister appointed a minister for suicide prevention as a result of the campaign and the number of signatories to the online petition. On 10th October, World Mental Health Day, Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price took up the new role in England.
During the campaign, the number of people using CALM’s helpline rose by 34%. CALM’s services met 80% of the sign-up levels of the previous year in just three days of the campaign.
"We used This Morning's iconic studio location to help spread a powerful message, putting male suicide front and centre on the show. The aim was to hopefully save lives and start a conversation about something that traditionally hasn't been talked about enough." - Martin Frizell, This Morning Editor, ITV
"I’ve never seen anything like it in all the years we’ve been here at the tower… to see those statues on the top of the building and everybody stopping and just looking up to take a moment." - Holly Willoughby, This Morning presenter
"The publicity resulted in the largest ever conversation about male suicide in the UK and we've seen a 34% increase in the use of our helpline and a similar rise in contacts to CALM. I am sure lives have been saved as a result of Project 84." - Simon Gunning, chief executive of CALM
This project was a winner at The Drum Social Purpose Awards. If you have a project you think is worthy of attention, you can register your interest in next year's awards here.
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