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Norwich City’s tie up with the Samaritans highlights the hidden signs of poor mental health

Sometimes ‘Stuntwatch’ doesn’t do justice to the campaigns we write about.

Norwich City’s recent tie up with Samaritans is best-in-class content. It grabs your attention, it stops you scrolling and on top of over 50million views on twitter alone, it has also achieved the social Holy Grail – an avalanche  earned coverage for content.

For those that haven’t seen it, the moving video – posted on the club’s social media channels to mark World Mental Health Day – uses two football fans to highlight the hidden signs of mental health conditions.

It starts as most ‘get men to talk to each other’ campaigns do. There is one man clearly not himself and one cheery man doing the right thing and ‘checking in’. The acting is a bit hammy and for the first two minutes I was struggling to see what the fuss was about…but then in comes a plot twist that M Night Shamalyan would be proud of.

It is revealed that the cheerful, happy-go-lucky, full-of-beans man that is struggling with his mental health. He is the one who has killed himself.

It hits you like a train. I take pride in having spotted the Sixth Sense twist a mile off and obviously Guy Pierce killed his wife in Memento – but this one sent me to the shops like a Lionel Messi shoulder drop. I didn’t see it coming, it was a bait and switched that had me caught hook, line and sinker…and I wasn’t alone.

I saw this video for the first time when it was shared in my ‘lads lads lads’ WhatsApp group. Then it was shared in my ‘football lads lads lads’ group and then most impressively, it showed up in my often dormant ‘Dads who have kids at the same nursery and occasionally ask favours of each other’ group.

Something about this content hit differently for men and I think it can be summed up in three truths:

Most men have a mate who has killed themselves. If you have been to one of those funerals, you will know how the small talk sounds. You don’t tend to hear; “Well, we all saw that coming”, you do hear “we had no idea”. This is how most suicides present themselves – you don’t see them coming.

You can see yourself in the characters. I consider myself lucky to be – for the most part – mentally healthy. However, when I’m not, I look more like the cheery guy than the downbeat guy. I get this weird, manic energy that is my brain trying to will myself to feel better. I overcompensate with good vibes to try and hide bad vibes. I felt very seen by this video and – for once – it feels good to be very seen.

It is creatively on point. It combines a simple message with a counter-intuitive spin. It uses passions (football) to convey a serious tone and it deserves every plaudit it is currently receiving.

Lastly, let’s end on the message this piece wanted to deliver. Check in on those around you.

This week's PR Stunt Watch was written by Greg Double, Creative Director at Mischief PR.

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