New campaign challenges assumptions around depression

The poster campaign for non-profit German suicide prevention foundation, Deutsche Depressionshilfe, aims to make audiences think differently about what depression can look like

Depression ads

Created by agency Grabarz & Partner, the images are centred on a simple premise: that depression is not always obvious on the surface, which can lead to the seriousness of the mental health problem being underestimated.

To articulate this, the posters playfully mix photographs and text to illustrate how depression has many faces and is often unrecognisable at first glance. The campaign was first published in August 2023, before appearing in numerous major German cities in January this year due to a cooperation with DOOH provider WallDecaux.

Depression ads
Depression ads

The campaign draws parallels with The Last Photo, adam&eveDDB’s campaign for CALM, which features real-life photos and video provided by loved ones of people who went on to die by suicide. The imagery is distinguished by showing people who appear happy and successful, with no obvious evidence of suicidal thoughts.

“Creating the Deutsche Depressionshilfe campaign was a matter close to our hearts, as this disease also affects people in our private lives,” says Ralf Heuel, managing director and CCO at Grabarz & Partner in Hamburg. “We want to create more empathy and sensitivity for our fellow human beings who live with the burden of this serious illness. Our campaign is an appeal to look beneath the surface, to engage with the topic of depression, to visit the Deutsche Depressionshilfe website and to take a self-test, for example, which can provide an initial indication of depression.”

Agency: Grabarz & Partner
Photographer: Philipp Rathmer