ITV interrupts Britain's Got Talent to get people talking about mental health

Campaign by Uncommon also includes silent ad takeover.

ITV interrupted one of its biggest shows on Saturday night to encourage people to break the silence surrounding mental health. 

During the final of Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions, presenters Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly suddenly halted the proceedings to introduce ITV’s mental wellness campaign, created by Uncommon Creative Studio. Addressing viewers, Ant & Dec shared the fact that anxiety and depression in children has risen by 48% since 2004, yet simply talking and listening to each other can help build mental wellness. 

The presenters then paused the show and urged people at home to talk to each other during the broadcaster’s one minute of silence. Judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams sat quietly, while backstage crew held up placards reading: "Use our silence to talk to each other." 

The following commercial break opened with a film featuring talent from ITV’s most well-known shows, such as This Morning’s Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, Dermot O’Leary, Gordon Ramsay and Brenda Blethyn, who do not make any sound or movement while appearing in their usual TV settings. The same message about prioritising mental wellness is woven into the scenes. 

The takeover continued with silent ads from Dunelm, Oral-B, Gillette, Seat and Network Rail. Over the next month, "Britain get talking" ads will hijack the channel, featuring familiar ITV faces who will use their silence to prompt viewers to talk to each other at home. 

The campaign will also include promos, radio, break bumpers, online content and print, as well as TV spots and social media for World Mental Health Day on 10 October. The films were directed by Nez through Pulse Films, and Goodstuff Communications is the media agency. 

Mental-health charities Mind and YoungMinds are supporting "Britain get talking". ITV has set a goal of getting 10 million people to take action to improve their mental or physical health by 2023. 

A YouGov survey, commissioned by ITV, found that more than half of parents of teens are worried about their children’s mental health. Yet two in five of those parents say they don’t have a meaningful chat with their children every day, while one in three don’t get daily one-on-one time with them. ITV’s campaign aims to encourage space for more meaningful time and conversations. 

Dame Carolyn McCall, chief executive of ITV, said: "ITV brings people together for unmissable shared viewing moments. By disrupting one of our biggest shows this Saturday night, we want to reach a wide family audience and create the space to start a national conversation about mental wellness. At the heart of ITV’s social purpose strategy is this new five-year commitment to help make mental wellness a priority in all our lives.

"We've worked with our long-term strategic partner, Mind, as well as YoungMinds to develop 'Britain get talking'. The campaign highlights the importance of talking and listening in building mental wellness, ensuring we make looking after our mental health as much of a part of our daily lives and culture as our physical health."

Lucy Jameson, co-founder of Uncommon, added: "ITV is a brand that matters. It is a positive and powerful voice in British culture. We wanted to focus that power on mental health and, in particular, the mental well-being of our children. All the statistics say there’s a rising problem amongst today’s kids, with people spending more time than ever ‘together alone’. 

"We wanted to make something that went beyond advertising. Changing programming. Involving talent across the whole channel. And even pausing its most iconic shows to provoke important conversations across the nation – that’s what ‘More than TV’ is all about."

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