VMLY&R and Calm spotlight unseen signals with Lioness Fran Kirby

Ahead of the biggest football tournament, the suicide prevention campaign highlights the mental health struggles of young women

By Creative Salon

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) today announced a new national campaign, featuring England Lioness and CALM ambassador Fran Kirby, to tackle the rising rates of suicide in young women under 25.

Over the course of this summer’s biggest football tournament, it is estimated 14 young women in the UK will take their own lives with recent ONS data revealing that one woman under the age of 25 dies by suicide every two days.

Unseen Signals, created by VMLY&R London, aims to challenge the stigma and stereotypes that prevent women from being supported, and help equip people with practical tools to take action and help save a life, as almost a fifth (19%) of young women aged between 18-34 in the past 5 years have felt either dismissed or invisible when speaking up about a mental health crisis.

Known for her emotional storytelling, the hero film was directed by Natalie Rae through Object & Animal. Fran Kirby is the focus of the action as she goes down in agony after being fouled, hand raised. She needs help. But the game continues around her. The whistle isn’t blown. She calls out.

The game continues. She’s invisible. The players, the referee and the crowd are oblivious. There is no help coming.

The powerful work draws on parallels faced by young women who are suicidal, whose calls for help can all too often be misunderstood or go unrecognised. The film ends with the message ‘no signal for help should go unseen. Your support could help save a life’.

The film was crafted using a mix of existing gameplay and green screen moments of Fran calling for help and struggling. Key angles were carefully captured, matching focal length and camera zooms to the real game footage. In post, with the teams at Framestore and The Assembly Rooms, an effective flow of shots and visual effects were developed using both real and re-created game backgrounds to tell the dynamic story. Ultimately, encapsulating the feeling of a real broadcasted match.

Fran Kirby - who missed out on this summer's World Cup due to injury - is CALM’s newest ambassador, and aims to use her platform to shine a light on the issue, with Unseen Signals running throughout the football tournament across Online, ITV, Sky, Channel 4, Pearl & Dean Cinemas and The Outernet with further OOH and print executions going live from week commencing 17th of July.

A mural, painted by French street artist Zabou, will also be revealed on 25th July near the Bullring in Birmingham for a period of 5 weeks.

Fran Kirby, England Lioness and CALM ambassador commenting on the campaign said: "The statistics are hard to digest, as these tragic numbers can be prevented. That's why I've teamed up with CALM to shine a light on this issue, and to tackle the stigma that prevents young women from getting the support they need when they're struggling. Like any team, we all have our part to play in making sure young women feel seen when they reach out.”

Dayoung Yun, Creative Director at VMLY&R London said: “To launch alongside this summer’s largest football tournament and to work with an amazing ambassador like Fran Kirby, we knew we had a real chance to make a difference. Not only to create work that wouldn’t go unseen, but to make something that would motivate everyone to take action and stand united against suicide with CALM.

Natalie Rae was perfect to take us on that journey. She’s an incredible director and storyteller, with a ton of heart and empathy which was crucial for this campaign.”

Dipika Saggi, Marketing Director at CALM, said: “Being a part of culture has always been important to CALM, it's where we believe we can have the biggest impact in suicide prevention. So at a time when young women are front and centre on the world’s sporting stage, we knew we had to be a part of the conversation. Suicide in young women is the highest it has been since records began, and something that we as society need to tackle now. Research showed that young women often feel unseen when they are struggling so through this campaign CALM hopes to provide the support and tools to ensure that no woman has to face her struggles alone.”

For more information on the campaign or for practical advice on how to take action and help spot the signs, head to thecalmzone.net.


Client - Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)

CMO - Matt Jennings

Marketing Director - Dipika Saggi

Creative Director – Danny Wright

Project Manager – Elle Abu-Nimeh

Agency – VMLY&R

Production Company - Object + Animal

Director - Natalie Rae

Founder/EP - Dom Thomas

EP - Laura Hegarty

Producer - Lucy Sherwood

Production Manager – Jane Linfoot

Production Assistant – Ele Baldwin

DOP - Olan Collardy

1st AD – Rob Thorpe

Edit - The Assembly Rooms

Editor - Ed Cooper & Eve Ashwell

Edit Producer - Phoebe Armstong-Beaver

Post-Production – Framestore

VFX Leads - Paul O'Brien & Darran Nicholson

Roto - Maxwell Lane, Asher Hunt & Tizoc Flores

Producer - Jake Saunders

Colour – Company3

Colourist- Matthieu Toullet

Audio – 750MPH

Audio Producer – Caroline Jemirifo & Natasha Redhead

Sound Engineer – Marcin Pawlik

Media Agency – 7Stars

PR Agency – Hope&Glory PR


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