This campaign stood out because it tackled a taboo subject impacting the farming community, particularly isolated young farmers. The campaign gained traction both within the farming community and wider audiences through media coverage, digital awareness and stakeholder work. The engaging and emotive video depicted the stark realities of working on a farm, often in isolation, dealing with various agricultural as well as mental health challenges. It was a powerful combination of a small charity and networks working together to bring about change and their practical toolkit linked to Farm Safety Week, providing a meaningful legacy for the campaign.
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Brief and objectives:
The Farm Safety Foundation is a national charity set up in 2014 to help raise awareness of farm safety among young farmers (16 – 40 year olds). Agriculture has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK, accounting for 1.5% of workers, but 15-20% of all workplace fatalities (HSE). In 2016/2017, 27 farm workers lost their lives in the workplace.
The Foundation works all year round to ensure the next generation understand how to be safe on farms, issues they could face and that they really should challenge when tasked with doing something unsafe. We achieve this largely through our innovative education programmes where we train 3,000 agricultural students and young farmer’s club members every year at land-based colleges and in YFC meetings across the UK.
To date, the Foundation has focused on the physical wellbeing of the farmer however, by mounting this campaign the Farm Safety Foundation aims to fulfill one of the key objects of the charity, as spelt out in our Articles of Association – That we “preserve and protect the mental and physical health of farm worker, dweller, the rural community and all other affected by farming and agricultural accidents by providing facilities and support services.”
‘Mind Your Head’ (12th – 16th February 2018) was born and our campaign objectives were:
- Deliver a campaign that got our target audience talking openly about mental health
- Brand coverage beyond specialist farming publications into national and regional news
- Deliver a message about breaking the stigma surrounding mental health
- Position the Farm Safety Foundation as subject matter experts
Rationale behind campaign, including research and planning:
Whilst UK farmers are renowned for the attention they give to their livestock, crops and machinery, it appears they do not have such a good track record when it comes to taking care of themselves and their own wellbeing. Levels of depression in the industry are thought to be increasing and suicide rates in agricultural workers are among the highest in any occupational group (Office of National Statistics). According to the HSE Helping GB Work Well Strategy, mental health and depression, in particular, affects 1 in 5 people – this could equate to 20% of farming workforce. Alarmingly, according to the ONS, Suicide by Occupation report released on 17 March 2017 more than one agricultural worker every week in the UK dies by suicide. In an industry with the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK, stress is often a key factor in many of the accidents, injuries and illnesses taking place on farms. Stress is something that many farmers face at some point and is an important contributor to mental health problems. It can come from many sources such as financial pressure, livestock disease, poor harvests, market conditions, concerns about Brexit, policies, administration and legislation.
Strategy and tactics, including creativity and innovation:
Our strategy was to create impactful content that would resonate with an audience of farmers who are conservative and not keen to open up and talk about mental health.
Implementation of tactics:
We achieved this using the following tactics:
- Hero video – We created an emotive and impactful video showing a farmer working in an isolated rural location on his own for the day. It juxtaposed the beauty of the location with the brutality of rural life. Throughout the film the farmer is mute – he cannot find the words to express what he is going through. As the film finishes a voiceover is used to explain the shocking facts that more than one farmer a week takes their own life, but by finding their voice and asking for help, they can deal with depression
- Teaser video – we issued snippets of the video to build anticipation in the days running up to launch day
- Social media – through Twittercards, engaging and challenging posts on Facebook and Twitter we started conversations with the audience.
- Blogs – a series of blogs from our campaign partners offered advice guidance and sources of support from throughout the UK
- Stakeholder Toolkit – All partners were issued with a tailored communications plan, press release, suggested quotes, Twittercards, hashtags and campaign assets to ensure continuity and clarity of message throughout the campaign
- National and regional PR – a suite of tailored press releases and case studies were issued in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England
- Celeb ambassador – international rugby referee Nigel Owens MBE supported the campaign as someone who had battled with depression and attempted suicide.
- Stakeholder relations – we utilised our strong relationships with farming unions, specialist charities, young farmer network, colleges etc. to drive outreach for the campaign
Measurement and evaluation:
The campaign has far exceeded any expectations and has delivered on all objectives set:
Deliver a campaign that got our target audience talking openly about mental health:
- Facebook – 216K views of the campaign videos, 600 new Likes and a reach of 380K
- Twitter – 431K impressions and 333 new organic followers
- Website – Over 4,522 page views, 64% accessed the information from smartphones
- Hundreds of comments on social from farmers or relatives of farmers talking about how prevalent the issue is
Brand coverage beyond specialist farming publications into national and regional news / Position FSF as subject matter experts:
- 101 pieces of national and regional coverage (print, broadcast and online), with a reach of 69,474,516
- 67 TV and Radio including Sky News Radio syndicated to over 150 UK regional stations including Heart FM network.
- 34 national print and online (including Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Metro)
- 99% positive sentiment
Deliver a message about breaking the stigma surrounding mental health:
- Clearly achieved by social media interactions and comments, feedback and emails from partners such as the NFU and Farming Community Network – “The campaign is creating such interest – Absolutely fantastic and well done to FSF for your amazing coordination. I know it will do such a lot of good for our farming communities to know they are cared about – that’s been sadly lacking for some time and I’m sure it has contributed to the low mood we see across the farming community. Mental health is an issue that can affect so many people, I am proud that we are attempting to banish the stigma that is so often attached. You should feel even prouder for being so proactive in telling the stories and providing such great insight, support …. and solutions!!!”
Budget and cost effectiveness:
The total budget to deliver this campaign was £13,467. This included:
- Agency fees £8,500
- Video creation £4,567
- Boosting social media £400