- JanSport, the maker of backpacks and collegiate apparel, started the second part of its #LightenTheLoad campaign to promote the mental health of young adults and teens. The social media campaign started in May and has seen "unprecedented engagement" between the brand and Generation Z, per an announcement.
- The campaign began with weekly sessions on Instagram Live to observe Mental Health Awareness Month in May. The sessions focused on current events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and Pride month. Among the experts in the series, therapist Nedra Tawwab discussed topics such as Black LGBTQ+ mental wellness and racism.
- JanSport, which is owned by VF Corp.'s outdoor products unit, created a film series about mental health issues facing Generation Z. The films covered depression and anxiety, family conflict, personal identity and how to talk about mental health. JanSport worked with creative agency Haymaker and Ruby Pseudo on #LightenTheLoad.
JanSport's #LightenTheLoad campaign to support mental health among young people has several strategies to reach the Gen Z audience. The weekly discussion sessions about mental health appear on Instagram, which is used by 73% of Gen Zers, topping usage of Snapchat at 63% and YouTube at 62%, per a study by Adobe Advertising. With many people stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic, they have increased their usage of social media — especially livestreaming platforms — to stay connected with the outside world. U.S. adults of all ages increased the time spent on social media to an average of 82 minutes a day in April from 75 minutes last year, according to a revised estimate by researcher eMarketer.
JanSport's cause-driven campaign aligns with studies that show mental health issues are significant for Gen Z. Half of Gen Zers said they adequately manage their stress, per an American Psychology Association study cited by JanSport. The study found 27% of Gen Zers said their mental health was fair or poor, compared with 15% of millennials and 13% of Gen Xers. About a third (29%) of teens said they felt tense or nervous every day or almost every day, per a Pew Research Center study cited by JanSport. The pandemic's disruptions to the daily lives of Gen Zers likely have added to concerns about mental health.
The campaign follows an earlier cause-driven effort to raise awareness for a charity group helping students affected by the pandemic. The company hosted a hashtag challenge on social video app TikTok that asked people to share videos of themselves emptying their backpacks and handing them off to another TikTok user. JanSport planned to donate 10,000 backpacks to World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that helps people struggling with hunger and poverty.
Cause-driven campaigns are appealing to younger consumers who tend to favor brands that support social movements. Brands including Chipotle Mexican Grill, Papa John's Pizza and Schick have run campaigns that raise awareness for causes in the past few months.