Using a Multi-Phased Approach to Bring Awareness to the 988 Lifeline


For 50 years, Vibrant Emotional Health has been at the forefront of promoting emotional well-being for all people. They work with individuals and families to help them achieve mental and emotional well-being. 

Vibrant partnered with Media Cause on a campaign to raise young people’s awareness of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and its use cases, including general mental health resources and crisis support.

The Outcome

In each campaign phase, we drove awareness of the 988 Lifeline and its new features, gaining 384 million impressions and giving vulnerable communities access to a free, potentially life-saving mental health tool. Across platforms, our creative assets helped to tell a story of hope amidst struggle, guiding people to the 988 number, platform, and other resources. This increased tool favorability and website visits, leading to over 600k views.




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The Challenge

Vibrant took over the National Suicide Prevention line, previously a 10-digit number, and created the three digit 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in 2022. 

This new number created a multi-faceted, complex challenge. First, Vibrant needed to spread awareness that the Lifeline even existed, and second, they needed to reach their most vulnerable audiences to ensure they had access to and comfortability using these mental health tools for themselves and their families.

The goal was to drive awareness, traffic, and usage of the Lifeline and website with difficult-to-reach target audiences—general youth, BIPOC youth + young adults, and parents and guardians of teenagers and young adults. They wanted anyone experiencing a need for general mental health support, emotional crisis, or suicidal ideations to know they could text or call 988 to receive help from a trained counselor.

The Strategy

The Media Cause team knew this was a challenge that would require a specialized approach. With a topic that required a thoughtful, conscientious, and empathetic approach, we needed to be hypersensitive to the content we created and published, and keep a focus on the emotional connection to the audience. 

Since the lifeline is vital, and even life-saving, we wanted to ensure that we not only shared the message accurately, but also in the most impactful way possible.

We rolled out the campaign in two phases to address each of the issues at hand.


Phase 1.

Focused on getting the word out about the 988 Lifeline and its text and chat options. The tagline “Hope Has a New Number” was chosen to drive the campaign.


Phase 2.

Took a much more emotional approach. Using data about the best performing creative from Phase 1, we built evolved the campaign to be more human-centered. 

By using real faces and unique creative that represented each audience more accurately, we were able to address the precise challenges and hesitancies of each community and pull at viewers’ heartstrings.

We found that the emotional content performed exceedingly better than the informative—reinforcing our strategy prioritizing human connection.

The Implementation

Paid Media

At the end of 2022, we worked with Vibrant on a Meta brand lift study. As these creatives had performed well, we brought them in for Phase 1 of the campaign and focused on Meta platforms to reach new audiences.

During Phase 2, we implemented a much more robust rollout across platforms. In addition to Meta, we also ran ads on TikTok, Reddit, YouTube, Google search, high-impact display and in-game ads with Undertone, and podcasts. On Reddit, we used community targeting, focusing on those that overlapped with our primary audiences.

With so many types of media, creating cross-channel reporting through our weekly Looker Studio dashboard was key to bringing results to one place to show the success of our efforts and generate cross-channel insights.

Across both phases, the results were great—brand lift studies with Meta and podcasts showed strong brand lift for awareness and favorability. 



The creative work represented the heart of this campaign. We created a concept that illustrated the juxtaposition of the internal versus the external turmoil of what anxiety and mental health issues feel like, which was brought to life through human-centered messaging, imagery, and a crucial design element in the form of a squiggle. We added this element across the campaign to create continuity and drive emotion while also saving space to educate on 988 and what they provide.

During Phase 1, we focused heavily on graphics, adding bold colors and eye-catching elements to stop our audience mid-scroll. 

For Phase 2, taking the more emotional angle meant including people in the ads rather than just graphics. Eye contact was a key element for the images to translate intimacy and vulnerability, with the original squiggle pulled in as an accent. We also created ads that were more specific to our audiences, like the BIPOC community. We used voiceover talent and imagery that featured members of the community, to provide a more authentic representation for our audiences to identify with.


Data Measurement Plan

Prior to Phase 2, we created a more in-depth data measurement plan. We ran brand lift studies with Katz Media (podcasts) and Meta to survey and determine the impact of ads on brand awareness and favorability. 

In addition to platform performance and brand lift studies, we kept an eye on supplemental measures, analyzing how many users went to the website and the site interaction patterns of each audience. Our analysis revealed that the General Youth audience was the most engaged on the 988 website.

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