Not for Profit

Background Blindspot

Social Purpose • Experience Design • Digital Campaign

Helping Australia see the full picture on mental health.


#WFH gave us an unprecedented look into the private homes and lives of our colleagues. However, with the endless stream of video call meetings, you’d think it would be easy to spot lockdown's toll on our mental health.

With the ubiquity of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Advertising had an opportunity to help remote workers beyond feature-rich video conferencing. But how do you gain cut-through on a platform without media inventory?

What a great project for our times, or anytime. ​ A lesson for us all.​

Skylar Hart
Experiment Participant


For World Mental Health Day 2021, on a $0 media budget, Microsoft launched the Background Blindspot—a direct, covert campaign on Microsoft Teams that confirms we are all blinkered when it comes to noticing mental health struggles online.

To prove our hypothesis and help Australians see beyond their digital blindspot, we conducted a social experiment (similar to a piece of live digital theatre)—running for 180 hours of Microsoft Teams video calls across five sequential days. Guided by psychologist Sabina Read, our volunteers were coached to alter their backgrounds and demeanour to reveal Australia’s systemic mental health blindspot. Would you have noticed the signs?​

A world-first social experiment revealed a side to the pandemic mental health crisis unfolding in front of our very eyes. A digital awareness campaign called Background Blindspot proved just how easy it is to overlook the clues someone is not coping.​

The Morning Show
Channel 7 • Australia


Thanks to an innovative use of platform and a brave client, the Background Blindspot helped over 1,000,000 Australian remote workers to see the full picture. In fact, two of Australia's most trusted charities supported the campaign: RUOK? and ReachOut.​ What started as a niche experiment to normalise mental health and neurodiversity conversations, transformed into a profound revelation for the nation that will linger for years to come.

  • 1M+ impressions (500K+ across TV/Radio & 538K+ across Web/Social)
  • 3+ minutes spent on the site by more than 50% of web visitors
  • 1 in 6 website visitors downloaded our MS Teams World Mental Health Day backgrounds
  • $0 media budget
  • 100% change in perspective

While working online brings new opportunities, it also poses new challenges. The Background Blindspot is just the beginning as we continue to look out for one another in a new digital world.​

Sabina Read
Clinical Psychologist

The Background Blindspot project garnered attention not only from media, but creative and communications organisations alike.

  • One Show
    Shortlisted / Health & Wellness for: Direct Marketing, Innovation in Lockdown, and Online & Mobile - Use of Existing Platform
  • Mumbrella Com Cons Awards
    Finalist / Best Sustained COVID-19 Response
  • The Directory
    Winner / December Magazine.
    Issue 61
  • Caples Award
    Shortlisted the Healthcare, Public Relations, and Not For Profit categories

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