The Looking Glass Foundation
Eating disorders are more prevalent than most people realize, with more than 300,000 sufferers in B.C. alone. Due to increasing demand, public care only covers extreme cases. As a result, many are forced to battle this illness in isolation without proper treatment.
To compound the problem, research showed that a majority of people fail to realize that eating disorders are mental illnesses, instead labelling them as self-inflicted behaviour, a phase, or a “rich girl” disease. The Vancouver-based Looking Glass Foundation set out to create a private treatment facility for sufferers – and to break down the stigma.
The foundation had to connect with mothers, teachers, coaches and friends – the biggest influencers in the fundraising drive, who could also potentially help a sufferer directly. By bringing to life the haunting reality and distorted perceptions of someone suffering from the condition, the goal was to prove that this was far from a lifestyle choice.
To articulate the message, DDB developed a campaign around the fact that “Not every suicide note looks like a suicide note.”
The TV ads showed women in situations that eventually revealed clues to an eating disorder. In one spot, a girl marks her height on a wall, and then does the same for her shrinking waist. Out-of-home featured blown-up food items tagged with “Actual Size to someone with anorexia,” while ambient pieces – a toothbrush, a spool of thread, a hairbrush – were tagged with haunting real-life confessions from sufferers and scattered around the Lower Mainland to be discovered by passersby, directing them to Lookingglassbc.com. Radio executions highlighted the similarities between eating disorders and other serious illnesses. Online, banners allowing the user to adjust the weight of a woman using a weight scale were rigged so the user ultimately lost control of the slider, leaving an emaciated woman next to the tagline, “Nobody can control an eating disorder.”
Based on the strength of the creative idea, the British Columbia Association of Broadcasters awarded Looking Glass $1 million in gifted media. Since the campaign broke, the foundation has raised over $250,000 to purchase property to open a world-class facility for the treatment of eating disorders. Calls to the helpline have increased over 200%, and site traffic has increased by 77%. Looking Glass is now looking at purchasing media themselves to build on the momentum generated by the BCAB award.