Corporate Responsibility award entry

Entry summary:


ITV’s programmes reach millions of people every week. We recognise we have a powerful opportunity to encourage our viewers to act on important social issues. This entry outlines how we rallied our viewers in 2017 to support those around them.

ITV’s Social Cause Strategy identifies health and wellbeing as the focus for all our cause-related on-screen content, encouraging our viewers to improve their own health or the health of others.

One in four of us will suffer from a mental health issue in any given year. In 2017, our on-screen campaigns from This Morning and Good Morning Britain helped overcome mental health stigmas and encouraged 1.5 million viewers to support those around them.

This Morning’s #BeKind anti-bullying campaign helped teachers and parents encourage children to speak up if they or someone they know is bullied. Partnering with The Diana Award Anti-Bullying Campaign, the show created resources for primary and secondary school teachers about the topic. Over 11,000 Teachers’ Packs were downloaded and over 270,000 parents across the UK pledged to talk to their children about bullying.

Good Morning Britain’s 1 Million Minutes campaign encouraged viewers to pledge to spend time with someone lonely by volunteering with a charity partner or visiting someone in their community. The 2017 campaign partnered with 10 UK charities who provided local volunteering opportunities. A staggering 65 million minutes were pledged by viewers over the two years of the campaign.


Full entry:


ITV was established in 1955 and is an integrated producer broadcaster that creates, owns and distributes programmes and content on multiple platforms globally, including terrestrial channels in the UK, video on demand via The Hub, and third party platforms such as Sky and Virgin Media.

As the largest commercial broadcaster in the UK and a growing international production business, we have a unique asset in being able to reach almost 40 million viewers on a weekly basis through our programmes and content. This gives us an opportunity to use our reach and influence on popular culture to create positive change.

Thanks to our reach, we are able to encourage our viewers to act on important social issues. We don’t believe it is enough to just raise money for a particular cause or charity. Where we can use our brand and our influence most is by encouraging our viewers to actually act on issues important to their communities. To align our efforts, our Social Cause Strategy identifies health and wellbeing as the focus for all our cause-related on-screen content.

One in four of us in any one year will face a mental health issue triggered by anxiety, bereavement, financial worries or life/work pressures. Depression is a major risk factor for suicide, and tragically suicide is now the biggest killer in the UK of young men. Female figures are rising too. In the UK, female suicide rates are at their highest in a decade, with an increase of 3.8% in the UK.

In 2016 we polled 2,000 adults on their experiences of mental health. They told us:

  • 76% have had times when they’ve struggled to cope with life’s pressures
  • Almost 40% have struggled four times or more in their lifetime
  • 42% didn’t speak to anyone about it
  • 70% wouldn’t talk about mental health issues because of the stigma

To address this important issue, in 2016 we launched Loose Women’s award winning Lighten the Load campaign. Reaching 1.6 million people each day, mostly women over 50s, Loose Women was a well suited platform to talk openly and frankly about mental health. In partnership with the Samaritans, the campaign reached over one million viewers on-air and over 950,000 through social media channels. On-air celebrity discussions, downloadable mental health checklists, case study videos and public pledges to talk about mental health helped change the conversation around this important issue. The campaign received a Mind Media award in 2017. You can find out more about it here.

Following the powerful outcomes of Lighten the Load, in 2017 we addressed mental health triggers.  We ran campaigns with Good Morning Britain and This Morning, our popular daytime TV programmes with a combined daily audience reach of over 1.5 million, to encourage viewers to support those around them. We worked  in partnership with leading charities to address bullying in children and loneliness in the elderly.

In March 2017, This Morning launched the #BeKind anti-bullying campaign, inspired by two mums whose children took their own lives as a result of bullying. The campaign’s objective was to help teachers and parents encourage children to speak up if they or someone they know is bullied. In partnership with the The Diana Award Anti-Bullying Campaign, the show created a variety of resources for primary and secondary school teachers to use to speak to children about the topic. These included posters, activity ideas and advice sheets to raise students’ awareness about the signs of bullying and what to do if you are experiencing it or know someone who is.

Partnering with the Diana Award’s Anti-Bullying Campaign was a strategic fit. Since 2011 the Campaign programme has trained 27,000 young people to be Anti-Bullying Ambassadors in over 3,000 primary and secondary schools nationwide. This Morning was an effective channel for raising awareness about bullying and the work of the Diana Award. It was, however, crucial to also have a direct impact in schools by getting teachers and students involved. The Diana Award’s wealth of expertise and presence in local schools meant the campaign reached the most important place, the classroom. Over 11,000 Teachers’ Packs were downloaded by teachers across the UK.

It was important to reach and involve as many children in the campaign. This Morning partnered with leading children’s stationery store Smiggle, who produced 150,000 free limited edition #BeKind wristbands for children to pick up in store. In this way #BeKind reached kids all over the country, encouraging them to act on bullying. The campaign also encouraged viewers to pledge to talk to their children about bullying. The two mums who inspired the campaign featured in a short video about the importance of #BeKind. Over 270,000 parents and guardians cross the UK pledged to watch the video with their children. Due to campaign’s success, #BeKind became an on-going campaign for This Morning so that important messages around anti-bullying can be communicated to audiences throughout the year. This Morning promoted the campaign on-screen in March 2018, gaining recognition in press such as The Sun, and will continue to support it throughout the year.

In December 2017, we focused on tackling loneliness in the elderly. In the UK more than one million older people are chronically lonely, and over half a million go a week without seeing anyone. Being lonely can exacerbate a mental health condition as the individual becomes isolated from those around them. Good Morning Britain launched 1 Million Minutes in the Christmas of 2016, one of the loneliest times of year for those without close companions, encouraging viewers to pledge to spend time with someone lonely by signing up to a volunteering opportunity with a charity partner or committing to visiting someone in their community.

In 2017, in its second year, the campaign launched with more charity partners and an international reach. Launched by Dame Joan Collins on Good Morning Britain, TV stations across the world helped spread the word, including in Canada, Australia, Austria and South Africa. UK politicians and celebrities such as Felicity Kendal pledged their support for the campaign.

UK charity partners included Action for Children, Age UK, Carers UK, Contact the Elderly, Independent Age, Neighbourly, the Royal Voluntary Service, Campaign to End Loneliness, The Silver Line and the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness. Partners provided volunteering opportunities and helplines for viewers to sign up to. This was invaluable for the campaign; enabling viewers to sign up to real volunteering opportunities in their area. Each partner also created a dedicated 1 Million Minutes campaign page on their website to sign up for volunteering opportunities. See an example here. Partners were also key to promoting the campaign through their channels in their local areas, reaching millions at a local level.

The response by viewers was amazing; a staggering 65 million minutes were pledged over the two years. Viewers also signed up to over 5,500 local volunteering opportunities with charity partners. We expect this number to increase significantly as we await the final volunteering figures from our 2017 charity partners. See 2017’s campaign summary video here.

Our own employees got involved too. ITV increased the number of volunteering leave days each employee can take each year from one to three days in January 2018. We heavily encouraged our people to sign up to pledge to use their volunteering time to support 1 Million Minutes. The response has been brilliant – with colleagues committing to volunteering opportunities through the year. We hope to replicate these successes again in 2018.

102 year old George Emmerson helps bring home the importance of the campaign. He is now driven by volunteer Dan Roberts to a monthly tea party in his area:

“Loneliness is like a long knife that drives deep down into your heart everyday, you will never get over it. Thanks to 1 Million Minutes I get taken out once a month to meet people. It’s wonderful, it’s made such a difference to my life”.

This Morning’s #BeKind campaign encouraged conversation and raised awareness about bullying in children, making parents and teachers more comfortable raising and addressing the issue. With over 270,000 parents and guardians pledging to watch the campaign video with their children, and over 11,000 teachers packs downloaded by teachers, the campaign reached thousands of children across the UK. 

One school that wanted to get involved and stamp out bullying was Nene Park Academy in Peterborough. After teacher Natasha Gleeson saw our campaign, she arranged for all 1200 students at the Academy to watch the video. The staff then went one step further, by implementing a ‘Be Kind’ messaging system throughout the school. Watch a video of the case study here.

The campaign also encouraged children to speak up if they or someone they know is being bullied, and be aware of the importance of being kind. Partnering with leading children’s stationery store Smiggle was instrumental in this. All 150,000 free limited edition #BeKind wristbands were picked up from Smiggle stores, reaching children up and down the country and reminding them to be kind. This campaign was so successful, that it is now an ongoing campaign on This Morning.

1 Million minutes’ campaign in 2016 and 2017 helped move the dial on mental health conversations amongst the public and in the public domain. The public pledged in total over 65 million minutes to spending time with a lonely person in their community, which directly impacted millions of lives. The key to this campaign was getting the public to get involved, committed, and signed up to real volunteering opportunities with the charity partners. After 2016’s campaign, viewers signed up to over 5,500 local volunteering opportunities with charity partners, and we expect this number to increase significantly as we await the final volunteering figures from our 2017 charity partners. See 2017’s campaign summary video here.

Kathi Hall who is the Head of Content & Brand at Age UK said:

“The 1 Million Minutes campaign once again highlighted just how problematic and heart-breaking the issue of loneliness can be, especially amongst older people.

Good Morning Britain’s high-profile platform put loneliness at the forefront of the public’s conscience, with its frequent feature and news coverage, celebrity and influencer involvement, social media and much more. These assets are crucial when trying to both engage with and inspire the nation on such a serious topic.

The campaign tied in so many discussions and links to loneliness and through this encouraged viewers to pledge their time to help tackle the problem – rallying the nation to get behind a cause like this really will have a huge impact on the lives of so many older people.”

The core to both of these campaigns was being innovative with how we used the power of our brand to make a positive impact on a real issue in society. We looked into all aspects of our brand reach and our assets, and planned campaigns that could make best use of our channels and the channels of our strategic partners.

The campaigns reached members in our communities in the following ways:

  • Featuring content in the programmes themselves – This Morning and Good Morning Britain have a combined audience reach of 1.5 million
  • Through our on screen talent – Dame Joan Collins, Felicity Kendal, our well known presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, and Susanna Reid and Piers Morgan, all pledged their support for the campaigns
  • Through our programme websites – This Morning and Good Morning Britain’s websites hosted the pledge counters and provided more information for people on each campaign, including the campaign videos
  • Through the charity partners – the charities involved in both campaigns promoted the initiative through their own channels and websites. Their channels were especially important since they reached local communities, centres and schools across the country that may not have watched the ITV on screen content. These partners were also able to tailor their messages to their local audience which would have generated greater cut through. In the case of 1 Million Minutes, each charity partner was instrumental in providing real volunteering opportunities for people to sign up to, ensuring that the pledges turned into real volunteering time.
  • Through promotional partners – Swiggle high street stationer were instrumental in encouraging children to think about how they can be kind everyday
  • Through media and social media – people were encouraged to spread the word themselves through their own social medial and by responding to our social media coverage of the campaigns.

The main thing to remember when doing campaigns like this is that it’s not necessarily enough to just donate money to a cause and help that way. To make a real difference, it’s important to look into what kind of company you are, what assets do you have available to you, and how you can use your brand most effectively to create real change.

Tell the human story – it’s important to remember the reason why your brand has decided to support a community cause. It’s about the people, and their stories. For example, telling the story of the two mothers whose children tragically took their lives as a result of bullying helped explain the real reason for the #BeKind campaign. These human stories are heartbreaking, but also important to justify the importance of the campaign your brand has decided to support or run, and encourage action. Telling human stories is also a very powerful way of getting cut through with your own colleagues and encouraging their support.

Have a cause strategy  – it’s great to have a number of different social cause initiatives happening during the year, but this approach can come across as disjointed. Identify a cause strategy – an overarching theme or topic that all your social cause activities will align to. In this way, you can tell the story around the bigger ambition you have as a brand to make a difference. Ensuring all your social cause initiatives ladder up into a larger objective helps you choose your social cause initiatives more strategically and tell an even stronger story around the change you are trying to make. In our case, our social cause is Health and Wellbeing, and so for these campaigns the focus was on mental health.

Use the full breadth of your brand – as mentioned in the response to ‘innovation’ above, think really strategically about how you can use all your brand assets to support a cause. Not just your budget, but how can you use your channels, people, products, partners and influence?

When it came to our Good Morning Britain 1 Million Minutes campaign, we identified a number of ways the campaign benefitted ITV and ways we improved it in year 2.

1 million minutes had a simple message, pledge just minutes of your time to help someone who is lonely. It touched a nerve with our viewers,  who all knew someone who was isolated or living alone. It worked as a campaign because anyone, anywhere, could pledge their time. There was no monetary cost, but the result enriched the lives of both the volunteer and the person being helped. In this was it was accessible for anyone to get involved.

In year 2 we increased the reach of the campaign to make an even bigger impact and branched out to help not just older people, who were lonely, but other members of society as well, including carers. We also made the campaign a world wide one, involving other breakfast shows in Australia, Canada, South Africa and Sweden with the campaign. This global reach helped people not just in the UK, but across the world.
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