Elmo stars in mental health PSA following social media trauma dump

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Remember when we all trauma-dumped on Elmo just over a month ago on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter?

A rather innocuous tweet from the Sesame Street Muppet asking how everybody was doing spurred a massive response on social media. 

Through thousands of posts and memes, users and brands responded that — for the most part — they were not doing well.

Unbeknownst to the public at the time, the Ad Council was producing a mental health PSA with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization that produces Sesame Street, which was released Thursday morning. 

“Hum” is the first of two PSAs the groups are releasing, both in English and Spanish, which focus on fostering strong emotional wellbeing within families and breaking the stigma around mental health. 

The ads represent the latest installment of the Love, Your Mind campaign the Ad Council developed with the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. The second ad is slated to run during May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Heidi Arthur, chief campaign development officer at the Ad Council, told MM+M that the viral social media moment was a serendipitous opportunity to continue its behavioral health messaging with one of TV’s most iconic characters.

“We thought, ‘Wow, we are so fortunate to have such wonderful partners in Sesame Workshop,’ because Elmo is a trusted voice. You see that it extends well beyond children — so many of us grew up with Elmo and millions of people are experiencing struggles,” Arthur said. “So seeing that moment when Elmo posed a question and knowing that this partnership was already underway, we were beyond thrilled with how we were already feeling about this important partnership to extend the Love, Your Mind message.”

As Arthur noted, this PSA rollout continues the long-running work between the Ad Council and Sesame Workshop, especially as it relates to addressing the nation’s ongoing mental health crisis.

Last year, the two organizations teamed on a multiplatform initiative to promote mindfulness among kids. The effort included a PSA campaign, podcast episodes centered on mindfulness and emotional wellness as well as Elmo’s Mindfulness Spectacular, a 45-minute special produced by Sesame Street and YouTube. 

As with that campaign, this PSA encourages parents and caregivers to visit Sesame Workshop’s resource hub as well as LoveYourMindToday.org for educational resources on how to prioritize a person’s mental health.

Arthur noted the unique opportunity advertising alongside institutional partners like Elmo and Sesame Workshop as it offers the Ad Council the chance to engage in dual messaging for adults and children alike.

While numerous marketing initiatives have worked to dismantle the stigma around mental health and raise awareness in recent years, she said there’s still plenty of work to do to make people feel even more open when discussing their feelings.

“We can’t solve everything through the work that we do, but we look for opportunities where communications can make a meaningful impact,” she said. “So how do we change the narrative around mental health to help people who are struggling realize that taking care of mental health is a sign of strength? That having good care around your mental health is your greatest asset for success in life.”

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