12 men challenge ideals of masculinity in #ChangeThePicture campaign

Dentsu Aegis Network and male suicide prevention charity Calm (Campaign Against Living Miserably) are looking to break stereotypes of masculinity in a campaign that traces the mental health struggles of 12 men.

It sees the 12 men reveal the painful truth behind their stereotypically masculine photos in order to confound the notion that your social media status is a true reflection of your health and happiness. Instead, all 12 of the men revealed their battles with vulnerability, mental health problems and suicidal thoughts.

The campaign, titled #ChangeThePicture, launches today (19 November) on International Men’s Day. It comes at a time when male suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45, with 12 men in the UK taking their lives each day. 

One of the men that features in #ChangeThePicture is former professional footballer and boxer Leon McKenzie. Now an ambassador for Calm, McKenzie’s image shows him celebrating a milestone career goal on the pitch surrounded by fans. His reality behind the image was a different story.

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McKenzie explains: “Do you see a man that’s happy in this picture? Full of confidence? On top of the world? Actually I was suffering from depression – feeling sad, lonely and empty inside. I was going through so much off the field but I never showed fans, media, team mates or coaching staff the Leon that was suffering.”

The campaign will run across print, digital out-of-home, online and social. It was devised by Dentsu Aegis Network’s digital agency 360i Europe on a pro-bono basis and includes collaboration with several other Dentsu Aegis Network agencies including out-of-home specialists agency Posterscope, talent agency Gleam Futures and media investment arm Amplifi.

Simon Gunning, chief executive of Calm, commented: “Calm has been working for more than a decade to prevent male suicide. Part of our work is providing immediate support for men in crisis. Another key part is striving to change culture and attitudes so that fewer men get to that point at all. #ChangeThePicture is our chance to look at things differently, and help rid our society of all the pressures men feel to be and act a certain way.”

Mark Creighton, chief operating officer, Dentsu Aegis Network UK said: “We’re delighted to be supporting Calm in their mission to tackle gender stereotypes as one of our chosen charities for gender equality network, One. This campaign has been 11 months in the making and has been built on true collaboration and a shared vision between all the parties involved. By working together, we can build an equal, open, and honest environment for everyone.”

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