Instagram is talking up the power of its platform in helping young people to discover themselves in a new global campaign, "Yours to make".
Created by Johannes Leonardo alongside Facebook’s in-house shop Creative X, the campaign includes a 95-second film that features various characters exploring an expansive dark space that seems to represent the Instagram universe, taking in both the various features of the app and the array of content within.
Melissa Waters, vice-president, marketing at Instagram, said: "More than any generation before them, young adults today are seeking to discover who they can be. ‘Yours to make’ is all about centring on the beauty of that process, self-discovery and how through exploration and creative expression, we all can become more in tune with who we really are."
In the UK, the full film will be supported by a range of executions, including a social-first content series with Channel 4’s 4Studio, a brand partnership with fashion and culture publication Dazed, nationwide digital out-of-home, contextually targeted digital and video ads, and experiential activity.
It was created by Crystal Brewis, Malu Lara, Joshua Lampley and Austin Haas, and directed by Rubberband through Smuggler. The media agency is Mindshare.
The campaign, however, comes at a difficult moment for Instagram, which is again in the news for the negative impact it has had on some users.
As part of a series of reports dubbed The Facebook Files, the Wall Street Journal recently revealed internal Facebook research, which had previously not been seen outside the company, that found Instagram was having a significant negative effect on the mental health of young people.
The WSJ saw documents stating that, among teens who had reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of those in the UK and 6% in the US linked these to Instagram. Among those who felt alone or lonely, the numbers were 18% in the UK and 21% in the US. Facebook had also found that Instagram made body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.
A podcast covering the WSJ story is available for free here.
Following the publication of the WSJ's reports, Facebook's vice-president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, published a blog post, describing as "just plain false" the suggestion that Facebook "conducts research and then systematically and willfully ignores it if the findings are inconvenient for the company".
While Clegg did not address the specific data on Instagram's effect on young people's mental health, he wrote: "to suggest that the research community is settled in its view on the intersection between social media and well-being is simply not the case. The truth is that research into the impact social media has on people is still relatively nascent and evolving, and social media itself is changing rapidly.
"Some researchers argue that we need more evidence to understand social media’s impact on people. Each study has limitations and caveats, so no single study is going to be conclusive. We need to rely on an ever-growing body of multi-method research and expert input."
In a separate post, Instagram's head of public policy, Karina Newton, said the brand stood by the research reported on by the WSJ.
Instagram said it had made "big moves" over the past six months to innovate its agency model around Creative X, which is driving the creative approach and strategy for the photo-based platform, alongside Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger and Oculus.
The social media platform appointed Johannes Leonardo earlier this year to create the campaign following a competitive pitch.