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ABC set to explore other projects after ‘biggest ever’ cross platform event

Leisa Bacon QPAC

Leisa Bacon

The ABC is set to follow its backing of Mental Health Week by repeating the initiative as it looks to use its position as Australia’s public broadcaster to stimulate debate on key issues.

The network is nearing the end of Mental As, a week-long series of programs dedicated to the issue of mental illness, which culminates with the fundraising Friday Night Crack Up show tomorrow evening.

The ABC said it was the most extensive cross-platform programming and marketing event it has undertaken.

Marketing and audience director Leisa Bacon told Mumbrella it was exploring similar projects, with a series of programs dedicated to the First World War Centenary in the planning stages. Other projects are also in the pipeline “but none that I can talk about”, Bacon said.

She said marketing around the week-long Mental As was helped by a $500,000 ‘donation’ of distressed ad space from outdoor advertising firm APN, while commercial networks have allowed their talent to pitch in and help with the live two-hour fundraising event tomorrow evening.

Comedians, actors, sportspeople, musicians and politicians will come together for the Friday Night Crack Up to help the Society for Mental Health Research reach the goal of raising $1 million. In addition raising money, ABC’s Mental As week is aimed at encouraging Australians to take action and start talking about mental illness.

“It is the biggest ever cross platform programming and marketing project we have ever done at the ABC and every part of the organisation, radio, TV, digital assets have carried mental health stories,” Bacon said.

“We had two objectives. To decrease the stigma that is associated with mental health and to raise money in conjunction with the Society for Mental Health Research.”

Raising awareness was would also encourage sufferers and their relatives and friends to seek help, she said.

Bacon said the terminology used by the ABC – such as marketing the week as ‘Mental As’, and calling the fund raising show ‘Crack Up’ – was designed to be “deliberately provocative” and to make people take notice.

She said the ABC, in its role as Australia’s public broadcaster, would look to get involved in other projects and to “start conversations”.

As part of the week, an online art auction is being hosted on the ABC website with the deadline for bids extended to 11am on Monday.  Ten Australian artists have donated works to the fundraising efforts, eight of who have appeared in Youtube videos talking about their involvement with the charity work.

Ambassadors of the Mental Health cause have also donated non-art prizes. Among them is a Barossa Experience with chef Maggie Beer which includes two nights accommodation in the Orchard House and a lunch cooked by Beer herself.

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