TBWA\Chiat\Day New York's powerful new PSA "Boil" is helping combat Veteran suicide by fighting the stigma around reaching out for help. In honor of Veteran's Day, we sat down with Wes Rhodes, Associate Copywriter at TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, and real-life Veteran to learn more about the "Don’t Wait. Reach Out" campaign and how his own experience as a Veteran helped to shape the campaign.
Can you give us an overview of the campaign, and your role in the creation?
To combat rising suicide rates among veterans, our campaign is focused on encouraging veterans to reach out right away. We also wanted to confront some of the stigmas associated with reaching out for support by showing the act of reaching out for what it truly is, hard work that takes a lot of courage. I was the writer on this project and as the only veteran on the creative team a kind of consultant.
What was the inspiration behind the campaign?
Veterans and their experiences, including my own. We wanted our message to be authentic and real above anything else. That meant pulling from personal experiences.
When weaving together a story, unforeseen issues and difficulties can crop up, requiring a creative pivot. Were there any moments during the creation of the campaign that required pivoting?
There were storytelling drafts that I wrote, and performances given by our veteran talent, that got edited out because they were thought to be, "Too intense". Ultimately it was the right call to go in the direction we did, but it was a jarring reality to confront. There are places within our own truths that others just aren't able to comfortably go themselves. It's something we need to respect. It was a great learning experience.
What did you enjoy most about working on this campaign? Did you learn anything new from the experience?
It was amazing to work with such phenomenally talented and kind people, especially our veteran talent. I'd love to list each and every person, but the best part is it's a long list. One person I have to shout out is my creative partner and friend Lauren Byers. This project would not exist without her brilliance. This work was emotionally grueling for me and she did more than just offer her creative talent. She supported me through some of the toughest moments. That kind of friendship is a key reason why I'm still here. Reaching out works.