With a new website full of chaotic audio clips of sirens, puking cats, and growling stomachs, TBWA London agency and men’s media platform The Book of Man want to help people take better care of themselves – by helping them take care of themselves – during this stressful time Video to land calls.

Months after this pandemic, most of us can relate to the epitome of the Covid-19 era: zoom fatigue. When stress-free, face-to-face interactions are so hard to come by, the constant video conferencing feels like a cheap, cruel substitute for any sense of human closeness.

For all of us – especially those struggling with mental illness – taking that feeling of exhaustion seriously is an important part of self-care these days. It serves as a cue to go for a walk, get some fresh air, or step away from the screens.

In an ideal world, that’s all anyone would have to say to take a short break – but The Book of Man and TBWA London confirm in a new campaign that this is not always the case. Sometimes you need an apology.

With a catalog of distractions available in time for World Mental Health Day tomorrow, the Sound the Excuse campaign features over a dozen different sound effects to create the space you need for a moment and the campaign for free website is accessible. From a crying baby or smoke alarm to a pigeon flying in through the window or a cattle storm, the excuses range from quotidian to fancy. If nothing else, they will at least provoke a laugh. The website directs users to The Book of Man, where readers can find tips for managing stress and anxiety when working from home.

‘Sound the Excuse’ aims to open conversations about the stress and anxiety associated with working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The minute-long spot, available on YouTube and The Book of Man, shows overwhelmed video conference participants using the audio content to break off meetings. Even the less likely excuses (wasp invasion, indigestion, helicopter landing) evoke a sense of amused solidarity as the pandemic progresses.

Also part of the project is an out-of-home component with colorful illustrations by Alejandro Parrilla Galan depicting all the excuses available on the Sound the Excuse website. The posters direct people struggling with stress and anxiety to the campaign landing page from their homes.

The posters feature Alejandro Parrilla Galan’s colorful illustrations for the audio distractions.

“More than ever, men and the people around them are looking for inspiration on how to adapt, and for many it is the first time they have openly discussed the problems they are facing,” said Mark Sandford, co-founder from The Book of Man, in a statement.

The campaign sends the message that it’s okay to be not okay, Sandford added. “If we address the video call fatigue problem head on, we hope that it will shed a clearer light on the broader challenges of this new way of working.”

TBWA Worldwide, the international counterpart of the London agency, was Adweek’s global agency of the year in 2008 and 2018.

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