Journalism and Mass Communications, College of




Date of this Version



Spring 2014 Campaigns Presentation


Copyright (c) 2014 Outlier Advertising


Mental illness affects one in four Americans. In 2012, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in New York City and JWT Ethos created the #IWILLLISTEN campaign to create awareness about this staggering statistic and what people could do to combat the negative stigma associated with mental illness.

In 2014, JWT tasked Outlier Advertising to create a campus-focused version of the campaign in the form of an activation plan that could be initiated on any college campus across the nation in the fall of 2014. In addition, JWT asked Outlier Advertising to test elements of the campaign at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) campus. They were implemented April 6-16, 2014.

The original #IWILLLISTEN campaign focused on soliciting pledges from the general public in the form of short videos and social media status updates, promising to listen to those affected by mental illness. Based on localized market research in Lincoln, Neb., Outlier Advertising determined that an activation plan targeted toward a college community should focus on mental health instead of mental illness when raising awareness and generating pledges.

The UNL activation plan included four main events during Greek Week. Pledges were generated on a 15 feet by 3 feet banner that featured the #IWILLLISTEN logo in high-traffic areas around campus. Another event was the University Program Council (UPC) spring concert featuring Big Sean, which was attended by 4,000 people. Blue glow sticks 1 and free water bottles with the #IWILLLISTEN message helped raise awareness while encouraging concert-goers to make a pledge on the banner.

At the spring football scrimmage, which was attended by more than 65,000 people, 1,200 blue wristbands featuring the message #IWILLLISTEN were distributed in the student section in addition to the banner being displayed. The final event was a yoga class held at the Recreation Center to give students, faculty and staff an opportunity to relax and promote mental health. All attendees received wristbands and had an opportunity to pledge to listen.

All of the events were supported by social media, primarily Twitter and Facebook, using the #IWILLLISTEN hashtag. The social media content included local facts about mental illness at UNL, reminders about upcoming #IWILLLISTEN events, and updates on pledges. One popular tactic was a localized infographic video that was shared by members of the #IWILLLISTEN online community. Outlier Advertising partnered with prominent and like-minded groups on campus to help distribute the message and to create high-quality videos by campus leaders and influencers, including Chancellor Harvey Perlman, Dr. Pat Tetreault, Assistant Director of the LGBTQA+ Resource Center and Charlie Foster, an on-campus licensed healthcare practitioner.

At the conclusion of the week, the campaign had reached an audience of over 90,000 in person, 90,000 on social media and received over 550 in-person pledges.