CAMH Puts a Spotlight on Addiction

//  10.02.23



In Canada, an average of 20 people die from opioid toxicity every day

CAMH Foundation’s new campaign shines a spotlight on addiction, and calls on Canadians to confront the drug crisis, and build a future where no one is left behind

CAMH Foundation is putting the spotlight on the approximately 20 Canadians who die from opioid toxicity every day, providing an unexpectedly powerful look at the enormous toll being taken by addiction.

The new effort is bringing attention to the scale and harms of addiction and substance use that CAMH is confronting through its best-in-class research and treatment. It’s part of the organization’s ambitious “No one left behind” fundraising initiative introduced last year with the goal of raising $500 million for life-saving research at Canada’s leading mental health hospital.

An estimated six million Canadians experience addiction in their lifetime, and the number of people visiting CAMH’s Emergency Department (ED) due to amphetamine use increased by 700 per cent between 2014 and 2021. The number of young people coming to its ED for substance use disorders went up by 50 per cent between July 2022 and January 2023.

“We’re in the midst of an unprecedented crisis,” says Dr. Leslie Buckley, CAMH’s Chief of Addictions and a key consultant on the campaign. “CAMH is advancing critical research and treatments that are helping people experiencing substance use issues and their families. By putting a spotlight on addiction, we’re highlighting the struggles that people are facing and the need for urgent investments in solutions that make a difference.”

Created by CAMH’s agency of record Camp Jefferson, the somber spot starkly demonstrates the enormous impact of opioid addiction. It shows Canadians of all ages and backgrounds gathered under a series of spotlights, while a voiceover tells viewers it would be a tragedy to lose one person a day to a drug overdose. Or five. Or seven. With each number cited by the voiceover, a corresponding number of people on the stage are suddenly plunged into darkness.

When the spotlight goes out on the final person, the screen goes momentarily black and a voiceover says, “That’s a crisis.” The music then begins to swell, and the lights come up to show all of the people gathered together once more alongside CAMH staff, showcasing CAMH’s vital role in supporting recovery for people living with addiction.

“We wanted to visualize the catastrophic impact addiction has on Canadians, while still maintaining their humanity,” said Ian Barr, Head of Strategy at Camp Jefferson. “But as dark as the current drug crisis might be, CAMH is a beacon of hope, fighting against the darkness and helping those in need.”

Donations resulting from the program will be used to accelerate mental health research at CAMH and build a new Research & Discovery Centre at its Queen Street site in Toronto. These investments will enable researchers to tackle the mental health and addiction crisis, driving discovery in priority areas such as brain science, youth mental health and health equity.

The integrated campaign is running across TV, online video, print and radio, and is being further amplified on the CAMH and CAMH Foundation’s social channels. Its efforts include a diverse and powerful collection of stories of people with lived addiction experience to highlight its leadership in addiction research and treatment.

“We want people to see this campaign out in the world and know that there’s always hope and help—and they can find it at CAMH,” says Deborah Gillis, President & CEO, CAMH Foundation. “Addiction has touched everyone’s life in one way or another, and as a global leader in mental health research, we have a responsibility to confront this crisis head on. We’re calling on our incredible community of supporters to continue supporting the work that happens at CAMH and help us build a future where no one is left behind.”

About CAMH:
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital and one of the world’s leading research centres in its field. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit or follow @CAMHnews and @camhfoundation on X (Twitter).

Campaign Title: Spotlight on Addiction
Brand Platform: No one left behind

Client: CAMH
CMO & VP, Community Giving and Engagement: Sarah Chamberlin
Director, Brand & Donor Engagement: Meghan Kelly
Director, Strategic Initiatives: Karen Cleveland
Director, Impact Communications: Lisa Plenderleith
Senior Manager, Digital and Acquisition Marketing: Bhairavi Sampat
SVP Public Affairs and Partnerships, Chief Strategy Officer: Lori Spadorcia
Director, Communications and Public Affairs: Paris Semansky
Director, Events, CAMH: Geoffrey Chown
Brand Marketing Manager: Robb Eng
Senior Media Relations Specialist: Sean O’Malley
Media Strategy Manager: Hayley Clark
Manager, Research & Centre of Innovation: Lauren Clegg
Addictions Chief: Dr. Leslie Buckley
Senior Policy Analyst: JF Crépault
Executive Assistant to Sarah Chamberlin: Danielle Flood

Agency: Camp Jefferson
SVP, Director of Creative: Julie Nikolic
SVP, General Manager: Edith Rosa
SVP, Head of Strategy: Ian Barr
Creative Director: Mike Blackmore
Creative Director: Chris Obergfell
Associate Creative Director: Aaron Niven
Associate Creative Director: Ashley Babcock
Associate Creative Director: Dave Fontaine
Associate Creative Director: Brendhan McCarthy
Group Account Director: Roshel Kidd
Copywriter: Tori Wiley
Designer Director: Leah Renihan
Account Supervisor: Jose Baylon
Account Coordinator: Ashley Lorenzo
Executive Producer: Brenda Surminski
Integrated Production Director: Lily Tran
Production Designer: Ian Flynn

Media Agency: Jungle Media
VP, Media Planning: Derek Laurendeau
Media Supervisor: Karen Chow
Managing Partner: Cindy Drown
Assistant Media Planner: Claudia Boucher

Production Company: Partners Film
Director: Brent Foster
Director of Photography: Kristofer Bonnel
Executive Producer: Gigi Realini
Line Producer: Mollie Rolfe

Editorial: Outsider
Editor: Michael Barker
Executive Producer: Kayan Choi
Editorial Assistant: Nathan Olszewicki
Assistant Editor: Kerstin Juby
Editor: Nathan Olszewicki
Executive Producer: Kristina Anzlinger

Visual Effects: The Vanity
VFX Artist: Sean Cochrane
VFX Artist: Michael Medeiros
Executive Producer: Stephanie Pennington

Post Production: Alter Ego
Senior Colourist: Wade Odlum
Senior Producer: Spencer Butt
Online Editor: Joel Osis

Music and Sound Design: OSO Audio
Audio Creative Director: Harry Knazan
Producer: Jane Heath
Engineer: Omid Geadizadeh

Social Content Editing House: Magic Circle Workshop
Executive Producer: Tiffany Ling
Producer: Lisa Hall
Editor: Mike Colangelo