"Mental illness is the single biggest issue facing society at the moment and costs £105bn a year. Never before has it been more important to talk about it. And not only do we get to see great creative talent, we get to do it for something amazing."
The man behind those words is Johnny Pitt, founder of The Creative Shootout competition. This year’s challenge was to produce a real creative brief for Time to Talk Day. The event is an initiative from the Time to Change campaign to end mental-health discrimination, which is led by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
So when the pressure is on, does creativity thrive? The answer is a resounding yes. Eight finalist teams battled it out at BAFTA headquarters, the ideal setting for inspiring creativity and collaboration. Pitt’s advice for the finalists was to keep it simple, and not to overengineer their idea or be afraid of humour.
From the bold to the barmy, the afternoon was filled with charismatic pitches delivered in a range of creative ways, but the winning team, Mischief United, took Pitt at his word, and presented its own brand of distinctive "toilet" humour.
Read it and wipe
Its idea, "Time to Change with toilet paper", was based on the statistic that, on average, humans spend an hour and 42 minutes a week on the loo. The team’s creative concept involved a big experiential activation where printed toilet rolls telling real-life stories would be placed in temporary but usable public toilets.
The Mischief United team – from PR agency Mischief, comprising Georgina Quayle, James Robinson, Andy Garner and Indigo Le Fevre – impressed the judges with its creativity and the adaptiveness of its concept, from social amplification with "Bog-standard selfies" to radio "bog-casts" and "AMB-ASS-ADORS".
Second place was scooped by international comms agency Hotwire, which pitched using radio to reach
the public through the power of listening. In third place, communications agency Ready10’s idea centred on the fact that 32% of adults would rather communicate via text; its concept would encourage people to start talking more, through creative brand partnerships and a chain-reaction social activation with celebrity brand ambassadors.
Joan O’Connor, PR director at Coca-Cola and one of the competition judges, said the judges were impressed by the eight interpretations of the brief and the bold creativity of the winning pitch.
"What we liked about the winning entry was that it was totally different, had a strong insight around behaviour and a single-minded concept that would work across multiple channels," she added. "The team also demonstrated a thoughtful strategy in terms of getting people to think about the problem before they provoked a change in behaviour."
Jo Loughran, interim director of Time to Change, said she was very impressed by what was achieved in so little time. "We can take something from every entry," said Loughran. "It’s been an absolute pleasure."
Pitt added that the Creative Shootout competition was important as a means of showcasing and celebrating creativity within the industry.
"We’re very good at celebrating categories and disciplines, but when it comes to lifting the lid on creative talent, we are not so good at that," he said. "Doing it for a charity means doing it for something that really matters."
"Our idea had to drive a step change in attitudes toward mental health. It was devised to be deliverable, not just to win the Creative Shootout.
"We found an insight, applied it to the problem and gave an interesting, humorous, effective solution to disrupt the target audience and get them to ‘be arsed about mental health’."
Intrigued? Check out creativeshootout.com – entries for next year’s competition will open in September. To find out more about the Time to Talk Day initiative, go to time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday.