• Fernando Fornaris

A Snack Brand Known for Its Humorous Ads Shines Light on Mental Health Struggles at Christmas

Walkers (Lay's in the U.S.) is supporting emotional wellbeing programs through its festive campaign

Britanney Kiefer | December 7, 2021 | Adweek

While the festive period is generally portrayed as a joyous time, it can also be stressful and have a negative impact on people’s mental health. More than half of adults are worried about the mental health of someone they know this Christmas, according to a survey by the U.K.’s Mental Health Foundation.

Walkers (known as Lay’s in the U.S.) puts the focus on mental wellbeing for its Christmas ad. The snack brand is known for its light-hearted advertising, but it is using this year’s campaign to support its ongoing partnership with British charity Comic Relief to raise funds for mental health programs. In the ad, created by agency VCCP, a man named Larry arrives at his family’s holiday party, but beneath his cheerful façade he hides a range of emotions. His true feelings are represented by an emoji that changes expression as it accompanies him through different awkward scenarios, such as a relative announcing that he’s “on his own again” and another giving him a garish Christmas sweater. In the final scene, Larry meets a friend in the kitchen who asks him, “How are you?” His first response is to give the standard answer—“I’m fine”—but after some prodding, Larry finally opens up and shares a laugh with his friend. The campaign’s message reminds people that talking more can have a positive effect on one’s wellbeing. British radio host, TV personality and mental health advocate Roman Kemp provides the ad’s voiceover, saying at the end, “It’s good to share… not just your crisps.”

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Along with the ad, Walkers has created special fundraising QR codes for its packages, which provide users with a “smile-moji” filter. Every time one of the codes is scanned, Walkers will donate 13 cents (10p) to The Smiles Fund. Walkers and Comic Relief started The Smiles Fund earlier this year to support early-intervention and community-based initiatives that aim to reduce stigma and improve people’s mental health. Walkers has pledged to raise $2.6 million (2 million pounds) for projects that support mental wellbeing by the end of 2022. “Over the last year and a half in particular, the impact of the pandemic on mental wellbeing has been a huge concern. It’s been brilliant to work with Walkers, a brand famous for its light-hearted advertising, working hard to facilitate important conversations surrounding mental wellbeing,” Mark Orbine, executive creative director at VCCP London, said in a statement.


Client: Walkers Advertising Agency: VCCP Executive Creative Director: Mark Orbine Creative Director: Ross Neil Creative: Tom Lee Business Director: Olivia Packshaw Account Director: Thom Gilbrook Account Manager: Amirah Hajat Planning Director: Ross Cameron Senior Planner: Alex Scott-Malden Agency TV Producer: Toby Clifton Agency Creative Producers: Anna-Marie Mennecier, Sally Greenwood Media Buying Agency: OMD and Sips & Bites Production Company: Tantrum Director: Stephen Pipe Senior Producer: Clare Smith Editor: Matt Chodan @ Gorilla Post-Production Company: Black Kite Post Producer: Polly Durance Colorist: George Kyriacou Audio Post-Production Company: Grand Central Sound Engineer: Gary Turnball

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