When looking for a campaign of the month, it’s great to see creative ideas that capture the imagination – something that is really effective, fun and engages with an audience in a way that hasn’t been done before. However, something comes up every now and again that really catches the eye; something innovative and aspirational, something driven by passion and with an end-game that is meant to not only change the habits of consumers, but to make a change in the world for the benefit of those in need.
Earlier this month we came across a fantastic campaign that blew us away in it’s simplicity, combined with the sheer determination and belief of the man behind the campaign. #findmike is a campaign borne from one man’s struggle with his mental health issues and the conviction he had in finding the man who had saved his life a number of years ago. Jonny Benjamin is a video blogger who was stopped by a stranger from jumping into the River Thames in 2008 when at the low point of his issues with his mental health. With Jonny sitting on Waterloo Bridge, the man approached him and just talked to him, Jonny described it as such: ‘He was very calm and said “Please don’t do this, I’ve been where you are and you can get better. Let’s have a coffee and we can talk about this.” He reminded me of what people do every day so the normality of it was really inviting.’
However, after the heat of the moment had passed, Jonny realised he hadn’t got the name or details of the heroic young man who’d been there for him at his lowest moment and shown him a light at the end of the tunnel. In the hope of finding his saviour, Mr Benjamin started a Twitter campaign in conjunction with Rethink Mental Illness using the hashtag #findmike – pushing out his story via video content, discussions with experts/celebs and generally creating a host of content which he used to portray his story and spread the word about his campaign along with issues around mental illness. Within a month, Jonny had found Mike – or Neil Laybourn as it turned out to be – an amazingly short amount of time and a true testament to the power of social media. The #findmike Twitter campaign trended globally, in countries including Canada, South Africa and Australia, and it was Mr Laybourn’s fiancée who saw the campaign tweet – Neil explained: ‘She saw it on her phone a couple of days after it had gone viral, and straightaway she called me up and as soon as I looked at it I saw how big it was, so I just got in touch as soon as I could really.’
Off the back of finding Neil, Jonny and Neil went on a media tour, telling their story and talking about mental health issues and how people can get support, along with educating the public about the severity of these issues for sufferers. Most people know someone who has been affected by mental illness in one capacity or another, yet it remains a relatively taboo subject; meaning those sufferers can feel isolated and helpless – campaigns like this break down barriers and get people talking about very common but rarely discussed issues. To think that it all started with the determination and dedication of one man, and that he was able to generate such an incredible amount of support for not only for his campaign, but of the wider issues too, it really goes to show how far a good story and a impassioned commitment to the cause can go in today’s digital society.