Supernatural is a hugely successful TV, in its 13th season with a fandom that refers to itself as the SPN Family, this ‘family’ has created a unique support system for those suffering mental health issues. Jared Padalecki started a movement in 2015 called Always Keep Fighting, a t-shirt campaign that became a support network for fans. It is empowering for fans to hear their role models speak up about issues like this, admitting they struggle with this or just telling them that they aren’t alone. The way Supernatural actors Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Misha Collins has used their power and influence to create something that is inherently bigger than themselves is inspiring.
There is a lot to consider before launching any campaign and different things that need to be taken into consideration. The success of Jared’s PR campaign is inspiring. What started as a t-shirt campaign by one actor has led to the collaboration between three actors as Jared and his co-stars Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins set up their support platform for those suffering mental health issues, the Crisis Support Network.
“Why not try and harness this amazing power that the fans are accumulating and try to use it in a way that Misha has done with Random Acts?” – Jensen Ackles on creating the Crisis Support Network.
The massive support from their Supernatural fandom played a massive part in success of their various campaigns but so did their PR campaign. The success of any PR campaign lies in the planning and execution. Simple steps to successfully carry out a PR campaign:
1. Set out clear goals for what you want to achieve.
Taking the ‘Always Keep Fighting’ campaign, there are three clear goals to this. One, raise money for charities such as To Write Love On Her Arms, The Wounded Warrior Project and A.I.R. Attitudes In Reverse – Student Suicide Prevention – Mental Health. Two, to raise awareness of mental health issues that affect people such as depression, addiction, mental illness and suicidal thoughts. Lastly, the aim was to encourage people to speak out about their struggles.
2. Make a detailed and precise plan on how you want to achieve it.
How will you achieve your goal? The exact method of attaining the targets for ‘Always Keep Fighting’ is unclear. We know Jared took to social media to share with fans. Actors such as Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins and Stephen Amell, promoted the campaign on their sites.
3. Do intensive research on the aim of your campaign.
You need to know what your campaigning for to achieve your goals. Jared knew what he was talking about in his campaign as he suffers from anxiety and depression. Fans knew that this campaign was personal and something he felt passionate about advocating.
4. Monitor and tweak your campaign when necessary.
Allow for failure and have measures in place to ensure the success of the campaign. The ‘Always Keep Fighting’ campaign has been tweaked and relaunched over the years, mostly to include Jensen Ackles’ involvement
5. Choose your weapon.
What will you use to promote your campaign? Jared used t-shirts, hoodies, hats and bags with 100% proceeds going to charity.
6. Choose a channel for your campaign.
Social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr were used to promote this campaign.
These co-stars have all spoken up about their experiences with mental health issues and its impact. Jared has spoken out on his struggle with depression and anxiety, Misha has talked about his experience of bullying, its impact and how he self-harmed in the past. Jensen also speaks about how he struggled with being away from his family, how particular storylines affect him and the impact watching Jared’s struggle had on him and how losing friends to suicide affected him.
“People who are dealing with depression and addiction or suicidal thoughts or mental illness…they’re strong. You’re strong because you’ve been in this fight and you wake up thinking you’re going to beat it again today.” Jared Padalecki
The number of fan testimonies of how these actors and their show have saved or helped them in some way is remarkable. Jared, Jensen and Misha have proven themselves to be successful mental health advocaters on their use of social media; it is unusual to see social media being used to establish an incredible online support network of this magnitude for those suffering from mental health issues.
The reminder that your favourite actors are human too, that you can have money, success and fame yet still struggle with your mental health creates a sense of solidarity between the celebrities and fans. The cast of Supernatural has managed to perfect this, and use it as a way to promote awareness.
Celine Ward is a 3rd year Communication Management with Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/celine-ward-b900b3156/ and found on twitter @celinemward.