“What do you want?” It’s a simple question. For some people, it’s very confronting. A new campaign for online therapy service, BetterHelp.com shows that it can elicit deeply personal and heartfelt responses the asker might be unprepared for.
The campaign film, Want, by Untitled Films, was written by film, TV and playwright, Julia Lederer, and directed by Rebecca Applebaum. It uses a clever play on everyday miscommunication to achieve its dual purpose – to raise awareness of BetterHelp.com, and position therapy as an important resource for people experiencing anxiety and uncertainty. The campaign is running across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok, and leans most heavily on men’s mental health.
Applebaum brings her experience as an actor to the film, with credits including Station Eleven, Coroner, and The Expanse. The performances of lead actor, Izaak Smith, and Darrel Gamotin are central to the spot’s effectiveness, she noted. “I think I automatically centre the process around actors more, and I’m often thinking almost reflexively about what is best for the actors, what do they need to know, how can we make sure they get what they need to feel free and safe enough to bring whatever they have to the role.”
Early online reaction to the spot has been overwhelmingly positive. Applebaum directed a previous spot for BetterHelp called Distant Friends that went live earlier this year and has earned similar praise as well as more than 20 million views across the various social platforms. The campaign is running primarily in the US but also internationally, including Canada, predominately in English-speaking countries.
“Historically, men have been hesitant to reach out and ask for help with their mental health,” stated James Imrie, creative director, BetterHelp. “We’re starting to see more and more men open up about their feelings and emotions as the long-held stigmas start to fade. Rebecca and the team at Untitled Films did an amazing job capturing the feeling of existential anxiety that plagues so many of us. We’re excited to play a part in continuing to break down these stigmas, while we continue to provide the therapy resources to enable people to work through these feelings.”
Applebaum is a new addition to the Untitled Films roster after making the jump from acting to directing commercials during the pandemic. She joined the roster through the Hire Higher program, which helps to provide opportunities to marginalised communities, with a specific focus on Black, Indigenous and POC individuals of all genders and sexual identities. This is her first project with the Toronto production company.
Online therapy sessions, such as those that Betterhelp delivers, have grown in popularity during the pandemic, with studies finding that its effectiveness rates mirror those of traditional therapy. In studies, 98% of users said they made significant progress, 70% reported a decline in depression symptoms and 94% said that they prefer online therapy to traditional face-to-face therapy.
Creative Director: James Imrie
Content Administrator: Natalie Brown
Production Company: Untitled Films
Director: Rebecca Applebaum
Director of Photography: Josh MacDonald
Executive Producer: Lexy Kavluk
Line Producer: Nick Gervais
Writer (freelance): Julia Lederer
Editing: Saints Editorial
Editor: Christopher Chang
Executive Producer: Emily McKay
Colour & VFX: Alter Ego
Colourist: Patrick Samaniego
Colour Assistant: James Graham
VFX Artist: Sebastian Boros
VFX Assistant Nupur Desai
Producer: Mariya Guzova
Sound Design: Grayson Music Group
Sound Design, Audio Director & Senior Audio Engineer: Brian Bernard
Music Supervisor: Rich Hamilton
Producer: Sharon Yokoyama