Walkers and Comic Relief’s release The Real F*** Word Challenge for Red Nose Day

The work asks the nation to give up saying the word "fine" in mental health appeal


By Creative Salon

Walkers has partnered with Comic Relief for Red Nose Day for the second year running to shine a light on how much Brits bottle up their true feelings.

The latest campaign, by VCCP London, aims to challenge and reframe the use of the ‘F***’ word (fine), and encourage instead the nation to open up and start talking honestly about how they are feeling. 

With research showing that bottling up feelings and emotions is a contributing factor to low mental wellbeing, the social-first campaign launches with a series of films headed up by comedian, actress and mental health campaigner Ruby Wax.

Appearing in the campaign’s hero 20” social film, the wellness expert speaks directly into the camera challenging the nation to give up the ‘F***’ (fine) word in the lead up to Red Nose Day (Friday 18th March).  Ruby announces the fine for using the word ‘fine’ and concludes on the importance of talking as well as giving honest and open answers when asked ‘How are you’?.

Alongside the films, Ruby Wax will also provide her top tips for encouraging others to open up and answer honestly when asked, ‘How are you?’, as well as ten alternative questions to ‘How are you?’. To bring the campaign to life, Walkers have created swear jars to fine the British nation for using the word fine which will roll out across its social channels. 

According to new research, nearly every other time (38 per cent) a person in Britain says the ‘f word’, they’re not being honest. What’s more, in addition to our barriers to opening up, Brits are also hesitant to hear the reality of how people are feeling.

The average Brit asks others how they are at least four times per day, but only just over half (55 per cent) actually want to know how the other person is when they ask ‘How are you?’. Three quarters of Brits (77 per cent) rarely answer the question ‘How are you?’ Honestly, instead, opting for a generic ‘I’m fine’ response, over two thirds (70 per cent) confess to regularly saying ‘I’m fine’ on autopilot before even thinking about how they are.

However, when it comes to things that make us feel better when we aren’t actually feeling ‘fine’, there appears to be truth to the belief that laughter is good for our wellbeing, with enjoying a good laugh with a friend or relative named as the thing most likely to help, cited by 45 per cent of Brits. However, talking it through with close friends or family came in second, with a third (34 per cent) citing this as the thing most likely to help.

Wax commented: “As someone who has been very open about their battle with mental health, and has studied human psychology extensively, for me the greatest method of entry into people’s minds is making them laugh. 

“Often it’s not about the question you’re asking, but the context and way in which you ask it that will impact the way in which the other person responds, and for me appearing as authentic and open as possible is the best way to get others to open up with how they’re honestly feeling. As a subject very close to my heart, I’m hoping that through this campaign and banning what is, in my opinion, the most offensive ‘F***’ word out there, we can open up the conversation surrounding mental wellbeing.”

The campaign follows the Walkers and Comic Relief Christmas campaign continuing the the missions to cut the word ‘fine’ and truly open up.

Irina Panescu, head of media & connections planning at PepsiCo, added: “Walkers has always been about bringing levity and moments of relief to people’s lives - whether it’s through our products or our campaigns. We believe humour is a great ally to start conversations and open up about real feelings, so through our partnership with Comic Relief and campaigns like these we’re on a mission to get the nation talking and looking after mental wellbeing. So as a brand this was a natural territory for us to explore, but we certainly weren’t expecting the results we received.

“We were surprised by just how much the nation is bottling up how they’re truly feeling, with ‘I’m fine’ being used on autopilot, rather than as an honest response. Fine stops us from opening up about how we really feel, so through banning the ‘F***’ word this week, we want to open up the conversation surrounding mental wellbeing, and encourage the nation to give honest and open answers when they’re asked ‘how are you.”

Ross Neil, creative director at VCCP, added: “Let’s face it, we’ve all had an eventful last two years. Yet whenever someone asks how we are, we tend to keep everything pushed down inside by cutting off a real response with “fine”. What’s wrong with opening up? Let’s put an end to masking our real emotions by putting a fine on using the worst F word of them all…fine. 

We’re using the emblem of the swear jar to discourage people from using the F-word and instead of saying fine, opening up. It really does help. It’s great when two powerhouse brands such as Walkers and Comic Relief come together for a great cause such as mental well-being. And add to the mix the effervescent Ruby Wax and you have all the ingredients for a great campaign. Just mind your language!”

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