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How Men’s Minds Matters used guerrilla tactics and context for anti-gambling campaign

Featured Press: First Published in The Media Leader.

Nearly 500 suicides each year are linked to gambling.

That’s according to men’s suicide prevention company Men’s Minds Matter, which targeted last month’s Grand National as an opportunity to call out the negative impacts gambling can have on mental health. According to the company, the Grand National is linked to up to 496 suicides every year.

Accompanied by independent media agency Media Bounty, Men’s Minds Matter created a context-led campaign in and around London to bring attention to the risks associated with gambling.

The main challenge, explained Polly Roberts, Media Bounty’s head of strategy & planning, is that “gambling advertising is everywhere.”

So how can an anti-gambling message cut through?

Gambling ads ‘impossible to escape’

MMM Metro

Gambling ads have become big business to media owners since the UK passed the Gambling Act in 2005.

In February 2020, the National Audit Office reported an estimated 56% increase in advertising spend by gambling operators between 2014-2017, driven primarily by online and social-media advertising.

“It can feel like it’s impossible to escape. For us, it meant that a lot of media owners weren’t able to support the cause due to commercial sensitivities,” Roberts tells The Media Leader.

“We rebelled against this in creative and media placements. The ‘underground’ nature of the posters meant we could be brave with where we were placed.”

Media was donated pro bono, with guerrilla marketing company Uncle providing flyposting efforts and Metro agreeing to supplement the campaign with a print ad the day before the race.

“We knew that a massive amount of Grand National gamblers would be getting their tips from newspapers — so it made perfect sense to secure a print placement,” Roberts adds. “The art direction meant it conspicuously slotted in like any other gambling advert, creating a sort of cognitive dissonance for readers — making the ad land with more impact.”

Brand and performance mix

Flyposting was also done with context in mind. Posters were placed outside betting shops, providing a juxtaposition that helped the ad stand out, especially to individuals going to shops to place bets on the race.

“We needed someone not scared of pulling punches – which Uncle absolutely nailed,” Roberts says.

Apart from spreading an anti-gambling message, the goal of the campaign was to build brand awareness for Men’s Minds Matter. To that end, Media Bounty is currently conducting post-campaign analysis to measure the effectiveness of the work.

Roberts added: “We’re hoping to get more people hearing about MMM, and also a greater understanding of the dangers of gambling.”

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