Hello Jenni. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself and your career to date?
I’ve worked in agencies for most of my career, covering PR, marketing and events for brands including Burger King, Belvedere Vodka and Nokia. Then a few years ago I decided to seek out a role where I could use my skills for the greater good. That’s how I came to join UnLtd as its Head of Events.
In my time at UnLtd, I’ve been tasked with growing its events portfolio. I’m pleased to say that in just over two years we’ve progressed from two events and $80,000 in revenue to 27 events and over $1.5 million in revenue annually.
I started work at Little Colossus (owned by UnLtd) at the start of 2020 and I officially became the General Manager in July. MOOD tea is the first brand we have launched as Little Colossus.
What inspired the creation of MOOD tea?
Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people (those aged 15 to 44) in Australia. That’s not ok. We started MOOD tea to do something about it.
MOOD is a tea brand where 100% of profits fund mental health programs for young people right across Australia. In what we believe is a world first, we have galvanised an entire industry (across media, marketing and creative) to tackle this crisis head-on.
We are using the power we have as a collective and drawing on all the talents, influence and smarts our industry has to raise money to save lives and drive true change. With nine people each day taking their lives, we have a responsibility to act now. Knowing firsthand the devastating pain of losing a friend to suicide, I want to do all I can to stop anyone else ever having to experience that.
Which charities is MOOD tea supporting?
The profits from MOOD tea fund the incredible work of UnLtd’s long-time charity partners. Two notable examples are Batyr and Backtrack.
Batyr runs workshops in schools and universities that encourage help-seeking behaviour. One of its key goals is to help young people talk about their mental health in a positive way.
It’s so touching to sit in a Batyr school program among Year Nine students and see how they react to hearing from other young people sharing stories of their struggles. The work they do literally saves young lives by smashing the stigma around mental health. It encourages young people to reach out for help when they need it most and equips them with skills they will take with them into adulthood.
BackTrack is another fantastic charity partner that operates in regional NSW, working with young people the system has given up on. The motto at BackTrack is to keep them [the kids] alive, keep them out of jail, and help them chase their hopes and dreams.
Their work is especially important as youth suicide rates in rural areas are nearly twice that of cities. Additionally, Aboringal and Torres Strait Islander people are almost twice as likely to die by suicide than non-indigenous people and are three times more likely to be psychologically distressed. Programs like Backtrack are vital for young people right across Australia.
What were the challenges in launching the MOOD initiative?
It’s been a real experience for us to launch our first physical consumer product and ecommerce business. From understanding the world of tea to logistics and ecommerce, it’s been an exciting and, in some cases, steep learning curve.
Starting a business mid-global pandemic comes with a unique set of challenges. We had to run everything virtually – from forming a board of 15 directors to managing 12 agencies and partners as well as liaising with tea, packaging and logistics providers and holding various tea tastings.
The benefit of working remotely, though, is that it has enabled us to collaborate with even more people in a wide variety of locations.
What has been the reaction from the industry so far?
It’s been terrific. People are loving the teas and are getting behind our mission. Probably the thing I love most about our industry is the willingness of people to get involved in socially beneficial initiatives. Working at UnLtd and with MOOD, you get to see how many incredible, warm-hearted individuals make up our industry. Without them, there’d be no MOOD tea.
As the founder of UnLtd, Kerry McCabe, has said in the past: “We often joke in this industry that we aren’t saving lives. But actually, that’s exactly what we are doing when people get behind UnLtd and initiatives like MOOD”.
What’s your elevator pitch to people who might want to know more about MOOD?
In a nutshell, MOOD is a tea that saves lives, one cup at a time. It’s a product that looks good, tastes good and does good. And everyone in our industry should feel proud to be a part of MOOD and helping to fight youth suicide.
How can you help? Spread the word, and buy it for yourself, for a friend or stock it in your office. It’s available exclusively at mood.org.au.
And finally, with Advertising Week APAC only a few months away, what are you most looking forward to about the event?
More than anything, I’m looking forward to being back in a room with the industry and hearing from the awesome lineup.
We also have a big above-the-line launch campaign for MOOD commencing in July. The industry has got behind this in a big way by donating time, skills, inventory, resources and talent. It’s going to be a big one and I’m looking forward to being able to share the new campaign at Advertising Week and a little more on the MOOD journey.
And if you would like to help MOOD’s mission or contribute to the launch campaign, please get in touch!