The Hallway challenges masculine stereotypes with major health campaign

22 November 2021

The Hallway has recreated iconic song 'Boys Don’t Cry' in a campaign to challenge societal views that men should always put on a brave front.

The independent agency teamed up with The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Mental Health, mental fitness foundation Gotcha4Life and Heiress Films to launch the campaign. UnLtd and Initiative also provided support.

Launching today, the reworked song is being released as a music video, produced by Good Oil and directed by Tom Campbell, and a single, ‘Boys do Cry’.

The campaign, which is anticipated to be one of the most significant men’s mental health campaigns in Australia, will include videos, posters, outdoor advertising, radio ads and a campaign website, developed by The Hallway.

The reworked song aims to encourage men to challenge traditional masculine stereotypes, reach out to those around them, check in with their mates, and reinforce the message that connecting and opening up is not just healthy - it can be the difference between living and dying.

A team at The University of Melbourne’s Centre for Mental Health, led by Professor Jane Pirkis and Dr Angela Nicholas, have run a research program on the video with a control group of men, looking at whether it influences men’s likelihood of reaching out for help if they are facing tough times.

“We know that 75% of all suicides are by males, and that one of the things that may be influencing this is the pressure society places on boys and men to be self-reliant and solve problems by themselves,” Professor Pirkis says.

“Our work is challenging some of these traditional masculine norms and looking at whether this may help to bring down the male suicide rate.”

At the core of the campaign is a film, brought to life by Good Oil’s Tom Campbell, featuring a choir of 30 men from all walks of life and backgrounds, and from diverse communities. Included in the key cast is stand out recording artist and MC, Dallas Woods, a Noongar man from the East Kimberley, and actor Eddie Baroo from The Dry, Mr Inbetween, and Mystery Road.

Every day in Australia, an average of seven men take their own lives. Suicide kills three times more Australian men than road accidents and is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-49. Nearly one in five men will experience a mental health issue like anxiety or depression in a given year, but most blokes find it hard to ask for help when they’re down, and instead try to “man up” and keep their problems to themselves.

“Going and telling my GP that I was suffering from anxiety was more nerve-racking than any pitch presentation I have ever had to make,” says The Hallway’s partner and executive creative director Simon Lee.

“But admitting my vulnerability and reaching out for help is one of the best things I have ever done. My hope is that this campaign will help give other people the strength to do the same.

“This has been three years in the making and I want to thank everyone who has willingly given their counsel, time, resources and funding to make it a reality.”

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