SUICIDE PREVENTION. MAN THERAPY.
When a man bruises a knee, he rubs some dirt on it. When he has a leaky sink, he fixes it with duct tape. So naturally when he is pissed off, stressed out, down in the dumps or out of control, he tries to fix it himself. Unfortunately, they don't make duct tape for a man's mental health. And instead of seeking help, many working aged men resort to a more permanent solution.
In Colorado, working aged men account for the most deaths by suicide of any age group. In fact, four times as many men die by suicide as women of the same age. These men are also the least likely to seek help. On top of being stubborn and independent, they are the victims of an ages-old stigma that says talking about or even admitting to mental health issues is as unmanly as wearing pink. So when Cactus was tasked with helping to create a suicide prevention and mental health campaign for these men, we knew we had to put an end to this stigma.
We would talk directly to men. We would be informational, honest and most importantly funny. Because just like men would be willing to eat tofu if it was wrapped in bacon, our research found that they would be more willing to open up about serious issues, if it was wrapped in comedy. So we put our team to work.
In the early stages of brainstorming and idea generation, the Cactus team came up with dozens of ideas, but one stood out. One that fought the stigma by turning the stereotype on itself. One that used humor and light-hearted manly moments to open the door to a deeper discussion. One that featured a fictional therapist named Dr. Rich Mahogany.
If the thought of going to a therapist made men squirm, Dr. Mahogany would be our way of making men more comfortable. He would be part father figure, part football coach and part drinking-buddy. He would have a booming voice and a burly mustache. He would have a manly sense of humor and use plenty of four letter words. He would be the manliest son-of-a-gun we could find. Because our goal was to show men that getting mental healthcare is the manliest thing a man could do.
To bring Dr. Mahogany to life, we decided to create an interactive, video based website
. Set in his office/man cave, the website would teach men about the science behind mental health, give them tips they could use to help themselves and show them videos of men who have gone through the same thing they currently are dealing with. We left no detail untouched. We wrote every piece of copy in the voice of Dr. Mahogany. We designed a logo, wallpaper and business cards. We cast a great actor, Denver actor John Arp. And we worked with excellent partners to bring the campaign to life. We also created web videos, billboards, coasters, bus shelter boards, posters, a social media campaign and a PSA
to push men toward the website.
All said and done, we did something none of us ever imagined we could accomplish. We stretched a minimal budget into a massive campaign. And most importantly, we created something that we hope will save the lives of many Colorado men. Special thanks to our partners in producing the campaign:
Sean Leman - Director
Loretta Pollizzi - Producer
Sylvia Gregory - Casting Director
Jason Sedmak, Post Modern Company
John Johnston - Print Photographer
Justin Davis, Rocky Mountain Recorders - Audio Engineer
Joe Mease - Joe Mease Creative
- Flash Developer