Put Purpose and Values

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Whether in the fight against climate change and dealing with social inequalities or mental health issues, media players have a big responsibility. Susie Braun, Director of Social Purpose at ITV, discusses inspiring initiatives developed at ITV and the positive impact media can have on the world.

How does ITV work on being more than TV and really bring social and environmental issues into all its activities?

At ITV we seek to use our incredible reach and engagement to shape culture for good. We have four focus areas: Better Health, which includes our major behaviour change campaigns like Britain Get Talking, Diversity & Inclusion on screen and behind-the-screens, Climate Action, which includes both on-screen initiatives and our commitments to be Net Zero by 2030 and Giving Back, which covers colleague volunteering and our annual fundraising event, Soccer Aid for UNICEF. Each of these priorities has set goals that we measure success by, and report against. This helps shape our work and ensures we make progress against them.

How can TV and entertainment have a positive impact on the world?

Our research shows that nearly three quarters of the public think broadcasters can have a positive impact on the world. What’s so great about the medium of TV is that you can make a difference by telling stories in different formats, whether that’s in a soap, in a drama, on Daytime, or even in a quiz. Coronation Street was the first mainstream show to talk about Trans issues. ITV News was the first news show to have a Black anchor. ITV Daytime constantly shines a spotlight on subjects that don’t get a lot of attention, from less well-known mental health conditions to the menopause. The combination of reach, story-telling and trusted voices is really powerful.

Specifically, how does ITV use the airtime for good?

ITV runs award-winning behaviour change campaigns, from Britain Get Talking, which encourages people to look after their mental wellbeing by connecting with others, to Eat Them to Defeat Them, a campaign in partnership with Veg Power which is proven to get children to eat more vegetables. We also run a yearly fundraising event, Soccer Aid for UNICEF, which sees footballing legends and celebrities in a real 90 minute match for charity – this year it raised over £13m.


Covid-19 has shed light on an important topic: mental health. What are ITV’s actions in that regard?

In 2019, we set ourselves a five year goal of getting 10 million people to take action to support their mental or physical health. We realised that many organisations were talking about mental health, but so often in the context of those ‘one in four’ who might suffer mental health challenges in any year. Working with our charity partners Mind and YoungMinds, we wanted to focus on the ‘four in four’, as all of us need to look after our mental well-being. We decided to focus on the five ways to wellbeing that are proven to have a positive impact on mental wellbeing, starting with connecting. And so Britain Get Talking was born, an initiative to encourage all of us to connect more. We started by stopping Saturday night prime time TV, pausing Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions to encourage families there and then to have a chat during our show.

When lockdown loomed in 2020, we pivoted the campaign to focus on staying in touch with the message ‘apart, but never alone’. Over 100 ITV celebrities and public figures took part, alongside messages from hundreds of members of the public on-screen. 6.4 million people had a conversation as a result of the campaign. And in 2021, we’re focusing on quality conversations, so those interactions are really beneficial.

Our second major mental health campaign was born out of research, conducted by YouGov on behalf of ITV and in partnership with the Campaign Against Living Miserably, that showed that mental health was the primary concern of young people, and that three fifths of young people didn’t know how to manage their mood when they were feeling low. The ITV2 x CALM campaign seeks to normalise having ups and downs, and prompt people to think about what works for them to give themselves a boost when they need it.

We’ve worked with 11 ITV2 celebrities on the campaign, which included five behaviour change focused ads, and six-part digital commission called The Full Treatment.

ITV is also engaged in the fight against climate change. Can you tell us about the “Home Planet” initiative?

ITV Home Planet was a project conceived by the ITV Technology team, to think about how technology can help in sustainability. They wanted something engaging and that would gamify taking sustainable actions – and so the ITV Home Planet app was born. It contained a set of simple tips for use at home or at work, which were in keeping with ITV’s four different areas of climate action targets: energy, waste, sourcing, and culture. Each time you completed an action, you were encouraged to leave some information about what you did to encourage ideas sharing. ITV’s weather team made videos to raise awareness. Leader boards enabled teams to compete against each other to win prizes – this drove colleague engagement event further, especially as the prize was a tree on the set of Emmerdale, a soap focusing on a rural village. The Home Planet app continues to engage ITV colleagues across the organisation with sustainable living.

Susie Braun

Susie Braun

Director of Social Purpose, ITV

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