Bell - Let's Talk

Events, Seasonal and Short-Term (BRONZE)

Client Credits: Bell
Rick Seifeddine, Senior Vice President of Brand
Élaine Bissonnette, Director, Brand Strategy
Loring Phinney, Vice President, Corporate Marketing
François D'Amour, Associate Director, Brand Management

Agency Credits: lg2
Marc Fortin, Vice President, Creative Director
Nicolas Dion, Creative Director
Jennifer Varvaresso, Interactive Creative Director
Claude Auchu, Vice President, Creative Director
Marilou Aubin, Interactive Creative Director
Geneviève Langlois, Copywriter
Jonathan Rosman, Copywriter
Andrew Morgan, Copywriter
Jean-François Perreault, Copywriter
Marilou Aubin, Copywriter
Geneviève Jannelle, Art Director
Denis Brodeur, Art Director
Jean-François Clermont, Art Director
Alexis Robin, Director, Interactive
Rafik Belmesk, Strategic Planner Interactive
Samia Chebeir, Vice President Account Services
David Legendre, Supervisor, Account Services
Alexandre Normand, Interactive Supervisor
Jacinthe Meek-Baillot, Coordinator, Account Services
Electronic Production: Élyse Bleau
Photography: John Londono - Rodéo Production
Director: Jérémie Saindon /Director of photography: Steve Danyluk
Production: Quatre Zéro Un - Philippe Lalande/ Sound: Boogie Studio / Music: L'Oreille
Logo: Serge Côté, lg2boutique / Print production: lg2fabrique
Web site: Teehan Lax / Media: Media Experts

Crossover Notes:
All winning cases contain lessons that cross over from one case to another. David Rutherford has been identifying these as Crossover Notes since CASSIES 1997. The full set for CASSIES 2013 can be downloaded from the Case Library section at

Crossover Note 2. Brand Truths.
Crossover Note 14. Refreshing a continuing campaign.
Crossover Note 18. Keeping it Simple.
Crossover Note 24. Tough Topics.

To see creative, click on the links that are embedded in the case.


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):February 8 2012
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: January 16 2012 – February 11 2012
Base Period as a Benchmark: February 9 2011 (the first edition of Let’s Talk)

a) Overall Assessment

In Canada, one out of every five people will suffer from mental illness during their lifetime.

Three of them will suffer in silence, left in the cold, judged and rejected by society because the subject, widespread as it is (every day, 500,000 Canadians are absent from work due to a form of mental illness), remains a taboo few people are willing to discuss.

Not only was the issue critically underfunded in relation to the proportion of affected Canadians, but the stigma around it meant it was a silent evil affecting our lives. [Crossover Note 24]

That’s why in 2011, in addition to its commitment to donate $50 million to the cause in the next five years, Bell decided to organize Let’s Talk day, inviting Canadians to talk and text about the issue and help dispel the stigma around it, while promising to donate 5 cents for each sent text message and long distance call made on that day.

Considering the success of the first event (a Canadian record for sent text messages and completed long distance calls made on a single day: February 9 2011), Bell decided to renew the initiative for 2012 and help Canadians break the stigma around mental illness once more.

b) Resulting Business Objectives

On February 9th 2011, Bell beat the then Canadian record of completed long-distance calls and sent text messages of 52,000,000 -- as their customers texted and called 66,079,236 times, raising $3,303,961.80 for the cause. Objectives for 2012 were:

1- To beat the latest record by raising over $3,300,000 towards the cause.

2- To initiate conversation amongst Canadians about this topic; and

3- To have Bell be seen as the top brand associated with the cause of Mental Health in Canadians’ minds.

c) Annual Media Budget
$2 - $3 million

d) Geographic Area

a) Analysis and Insight

The cause industry is in crisis.

Consumers are  bombarded with messages asking them to give to a particular cause.

The saturation goes further when multiple brands get behind the same cause and individually promote their brand. This has made it extremely difficult for a brand to stand out in consumers' eyes.

But this being said, too few brands have actually rolled up their sleeves and gotten involved in the cause that they support. Most tend to sign a big cheque and run an ad about it. Not many brands are willing to go beyond the superficial and get involved with the root of the problem. 

So if corporations aren't leading the way by getting socially involved in a cause, how can consumers see any meaning in a brand asking them to support its cause? 

People are too busy to care and give.

Consumers' lives are already busy enough. People don't have time to shop around for the right brand supporting the right cause, regardless of their degree of motivation. In addition, supporting a cause often requires them to step out of their routine to contribute to the cause in one way or another. 

So how can Bell own the cause of mental health? And how can Bell motivate people to do something about it? By building its donation strategy on this simple insight:

People want to look good by saying they gave, without having to step out of their way to do it. Simply put, donating must be effortless. [Crossover Note 2]

b) Communication Strategy

To make sure the campaign had an even bigger impact than last year every communication for Let’s Talk day had to be rooted in the following strategies:

  1. Getting people to help the cause through effortless activities they were already performing.
  2. Building on Bell’s core business: telecommunications.
  3. Encouraging people who were suffering in silence to open up about their battles with mental illness.
  4. Associating the cause with diverse, charismatic and likable spokespeople that Canadians from all provinces, backgrounds and walks of life can relate to.

The campaign’s main message remained. Bell would get people to “talk” for the cause. It became the main idea that led not only to a message and a creative execution, but also triggered the mechanics that would get people to act/donate, without any supplementary effort.

For this year’s campaign, we also decided to take the conversation into a social sphere by adding Twitter and Facebook components to the campaign. Not only raising more funds – because the addition was always going to pale in comparison to the other media – but to bring the subject to a place where conversations were happening throughout the day: the social web. [Crossover Note 14]

a) Media Used

The nationwide campaign ran from January 16 2012 – February 11 2012, supported by:

  • Print 
  • TV
  • OOH
  • Radio
  • Web,
  • On-site Bell properties
  • PR
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

b) Creative Discussion

In addition to six-time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes (last year’s spokesperson) Bell decided to use two more high profile spokespeople who’d also overcome severe cases of mental illness - pop singer Stefie Shock and African-Canadian comedian Michel Mpambara - to reach the Quebec market.

Through their iconic smiles - a universal sign of people overcoming difficulties and an expression of Bell’s “Today just got better” brand promise - the campaign adopted a simple yet compelling approach that would encourage Bell and Bell Aliant customers to make long distance calls, text, share their smiles on Facebook and retweet Bell’s Twitter message about donating 5 cents to mental health initiatives. [Crossover Note 18]

c) Media Discussion

Bell leveraged its vast network of partners and media properties to guarantee a dominating presence across the country.

Television, print, out of home, online display advertising and Facebook ads were used in the weeks leading up to February 8th to communicate Bell’s initiative to donate 5¢ for each long-distance call made and text message sent, and to raise awareness around the issue by sharing facts about mental health in Canada. On the week of February 8th, a heavy PR effort was orchestrated to get the subject of mental health and Bell’s initiative in the news.

On February 8th, the Twitter effort was kick-started by using a promoted hashtag (#BellLetsTalk) and a promoted tweet highlighting Bell’s contributions. Conjointly, all other media invited Canadians to text and make long-distance calls to support the cause. The campaign’s official spokespeople conducted various interviews sharing their stories and inviting Canadians to participate in Bell’s effort.

On February 10th, a newspaper ad thanking Canadians and detailing just how much they had contributed to the cause ran in various national publications.

a) Sales/Share Results

Another year, another record broken.

There were 78,493,954 sent text messages and completed long distance calls on February 8th 2012 (a 19% increase compared to last year’s results).

> Thanks to Canadians spreading their message, Bell donated an additional $3,926,014 to mental health initiatives, beating last year’s donation by more than $600,000

> On that same day, Canadians retweeted Bell’s message 26,330 times, while the #BellLetsTalk hashtag got mentioned 42,300 times. This culminated in a total reach of 24,619,140 on Twitter, and contributed more funds to the cause. 

> Top of mind awareness of Bell’s support for Mental Health increased 60% and Bell is now perceived as the leader in supporting mental health (in front of Tim Hortons, Canada Post and RBC)

All in one day.

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion

Apart from this single fundraising initiative, no marketing promotions or communications activities to grow volume in text messages and/or long distance calls, or other social media initiatives driven by Bell were in market between January 16 2012 – February 11 2012. 

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:

See the comment under General Discussion above.


See the comment under General Discussion above.

Distribution Changes:

See the comment under General Discussion above.

Unusual Promotional Activity:

See the comment under General Discussion above.

Other Potential Causes:

See the comment under General Discussion above.