DO NOTHING – An Interview With Phantom

Phantom agency in London
Top Row. Left to Right: Hannah Davies, Dan Kelly, Sakura Rimal, Robin White, Martin Furst
Bottom Row. Left to Right: Madonna Arsan, Dom O’Hare, Lara Janani, Yulyana Ramanenka, Natrah Barragry

Saturday, October 10th was World Mental Health Day, a day to raise awareness and mobilize efforts to support mental health. In an effort to do just that, our friends at Phantom in London created a campaign for the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, a department of the University of Oxford, called “Do Nothing”. As advocates for mental health education, we were lucky enough to provide the music for these important videos, and couldn’t be more proud of it.

Taking that feeling a step further, and to learn more about how this campaign came to be, we interviewed the team who made this campaign possible.

Watch it here, then keep scrolling to read the interview.

Featuring “Even Now” by Steven Kemner

Tell me about Phantom. Where are you based and what type of work keeps you busy?

We’re an independently owned, creative agency with studios in London and Auckland, and a team from all over the world. We make all kinds of things, but we’re most known for our boundary pushing digital experiences that are always innovative and always have a uniquely Phantom twist. 

How’d your team get started with this project for the Oxford Mindfulness Centre? What drew you to it?

We heard about Oxford Mindfulness through a former client. They approached us about a pro-bono project that could have a positive impact on young people’s mental health. We’re passionable about using our creativity for good and jumped at the chance. We sent a little crew off to go and meet the OMC team (this was in the pre-pandemic past) and the ideas sparked from there.    

Raising awareness for mental health is obviously a significant topic that deserves a great deal of attention. What sort of challenges did you face while creating a piece about such an important issue?

A big one was the preconceptions about what mindfulness is and what it does, both for our audience and ourselves. We had to develop a working understanding of things like ‘being aware of the present’ and the difference between ‘reacting’ and ‘responding’. We felt everybody has an idea of the sort of person who practices mindfulness, so we tried to figure out how we might reach the total opposite of that person. 

How did this project compare or differ to past projects your team has worked on? 

Mindfulness is a complex subject. Luckily we worked closely with world leading experts from the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, who helped by recommending exercises, books and organising focus groups. Not only are we proud of the result, we’ve all become much more mindful.

Let’s talk about your creative decisions. Where did your inspiration come from? What type of videos, art, music were you digging through to prepare for this piece?

We started with a focus group with some teenagers who taught us about the daily pressures they face. A lot is expected of your average young person, whether that’s getting good grades, keeping your parents happy or being popular and attractive. Add the intensifying ingredient of social media and you’ve got a mental health nightmare on your hands. That’s where ‘Do nothing’ comes from. In the hustle and bustle of life, taking a moment to ground yourself in the present and do nothing may seem counterintuitive, but it can help a lot.  

What do you hope people will take away from it?

Mindfulness is a way for you to start taking care of your own mental health. Even if you consider yourself happy, mindfulness can improve your way of being in the world and relate to others. We hope people are motivated by our campaign and inspired to give it a go for themselves. 

Music-wise, what were you looking for, and what brought you to choosing “Even Now” by Steven Kemner?

Our starting point and placeholder was Gary Numan’s rendition of Satie’s Gymnopédie. We knew we wanted the music to sound thick and synthy with a lot of major chords, so it would be relaxing while having a bit of edge to make it stand out from music in other mindfulness ads. As soon we came across Kemner’s track, we knew it was right. 

What’s next for team Phantom? What are you excited about these days?

We are always looking to continue to do work for great causes and organisations that we care about. And using technology and creativity to get other people to care about them too.

Last question: if you could put up a billboard anywhere, what would it say and where would you put it?

We think governments the world over could stand to be a bit more mindful, so a ‘Do Nothing… for your country’ billboard outside parliament or congress would be cool. That’d be sure to turn heads. If you know anybody who can help make this a reality, please call us.

To learn more about Phantom, please visit their website here

To learn more about DO NOTHING, please visit their website here

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