Spike Lee directs celebrity campaign for International WELL Building Institute
As many American storefronts re-open amid a worsening pandemic, the International WELL Building Institute has launched its first national advertising campaign, casting a roster of A-list celebrities to promote its WELL Health-Safety Rating Seal that can give consumers peace of mind about businesses’ COVID-19 protocols.
In the new ad, released today, Lady Gaga, Michael B. Jordan, Robert DeNiro, Venus Williams and more encourage the public to look for WELL’s seal—available to restaurants and retailers as a physical sticker or display plaque—for reassurance that they’re patronizing a business with top-notch sanitary measures.
“Look for the WELL Health-Safety Seal outside, and feel more confident going inside,” Jennifer Lopez says at the end of the 30-second commercial.
“What I wanted to do with this campaign was make it very much in the style of a public service announcement. For the consumer, there is no transaction associated with our campaign,” says Tony Antolino, chief marketing officer at Delos, the International WELL Building Institute’s parent company.
When first toying with the idea of a consumer-awareness campaign last summer, Antolino says he took the initial lead and “developed the vision” before tapping agency SWAT by Kirshenbaum for the creative, with filmmaker Spike Lee signing on to direct. The end goal: reaching a diverse cross-section of the American populace, because there’s not one particular demographic that dines at restaurants or uses banks.
“The campaign is really a two-pronged approach,” aimed at both the public who might be looking for the WELL Health-Safety Rating Seal, as well as business owners who might want to purchase such a third-party verification, Antolino adds.
“On the customer side, it is a consumer-awareness campaign … we want to spread awareness around the seal," he says. “On the business side, this is also angled at owners and operators that can help them validate their procedures and guidelines.”
WELL’s product is less than one year old, and while some big-name facilities such as Yankee Stadium and the Empire State Building have already signed on to purchase the seal of approval—which costs anywhere from $2,500 to upwards of $100,000, depending on a business’s footprint and number of locations—there’s still a lot of brand-recognition legwork to do.
The International WELL Building Institute’s debut ad blitz begins airing today on approximately 30 TV channels including major cable news outlets, Discovery Network-owned properties and business networks. There are also brand integrations in the works with SportsCenter and “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”
The main commercial—cut into 15- and 30-second spots—will be concurrently assisted by digital advertising and paid social media, which includes social support from the celebrities who appear in the ad. But wrangling and negotiating with the star-studded cast was just the first intricacy WELL’s production ran into.
“If you just take into account the magnitude of the ensemble, this would’ve been, under normal circumstances, a very complex production,” Antolino says. “But layer onto that filming during a pandemic in all these different geographies, and pandemic restrictions and guidelines on the union level, it was fraught with lots and lots of curveballs.”
The ad was shot and directed 100% remotely with local production teams using WELL-supplied drop kits, he adds.
And while the idea of the WELL Health-Safety Rating Seal was born in response to the coronavirus, and many of its criteria focus on pandemic-related factors such as air quality and the cleanliness of common surfaces, Antolino is confident that the importance of the seal won’t be diminished in the future now that our world is hyper-aware of public health measures.
“We believe that this is a program that will live on in a post-pandemic world,” he says.