Torontonians are being asked to pull an all-nighter Friday to combat mental illness in what is being dubbed the Darkness to Light challenge.
The event, which aims to collect funds for CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) Foundation, was created by DentsuBos in Toronto and has garnered support from NABS (National Advertising Benevolent Society).
Previous work for CAMH raised awareness about mental illness, but “they tasked us to ‘enough talk, [more] action,’” says Jon Freir, vice-president, creative director at Dentsu Bos.
“What we devised was an event based off the insight that mental health issues leave a person in a very dark place. We wanted to literally bring light both to the subject of mental illness and to the people suffering it.”
The idea is for people to stay awake from dusk to dawn to raise awareness and money to fight and shine a light on mental illness, said to be the leading cause of disability and premature death in Canada.
Toronto is acting as a test for this year’s event and the aim is for the campaign to go Canada-wide next year, Freir says. The goal is to have shared participation help defeat a disease that isolates individuals.
Darkness to Light is being promoted on social media, online banner ads, radio and in movie theatres, with people urged to donate, form teams and hold parties during the all-night event. In addition, a digital word-of-mouth campaign is asking online influencers to connect with their audiences to build awareness and participation in the event.
Mental illness affects one in five Canadians, the radio PSA notes. “They’re our family, friends, colleagues and even our children.” The movie spot, running in Cineplex theatres, explains that “living with mental illness can feel dark, frightening, lonely. But there is hope. And it starts with you.”
As of earlier this week, the event had registered 942 participants in 188 teams, with total donations of $269,938. DentsuBos is fielding one of the teams and will hold an all-night party at its office.
NABS “has jumped onboard” and sent out templated e-blasts to its network, says James Connolly, account supervisor at Dentsu Bos.
As well, Virgin Radio is providing a DJ who will be live from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. the night of the event. Normally, Virgin just has a software program that runs music during those hours. But with a DJ, “people will be able to call in, talk about experiences, give suggestions, communicate through social media channels and request songs,” Connolly says.
Virgin Radio and social media will act as communication hubs for the event.
Participants are being encouraged to make a production of their all-nighters by tweeting updates every hour using the #D2L hashtag and to culminate the evening in a sunrise selfie to signify the symbolic gesture of making it from darkness to the light.