While many parts of the world have started to come out of total lockdown from the pandemic, the threat of coronavirus still looms large. Cities that have opened up have started to see a sharp rise in infection, so residents still have to take serious precautions when they leave their homes.
Local governments and agencies have continued to put out their safety messages, and in order to stand out in the sea of advertising we’ve seen over the last few months, some have turned to humor. Agency AMV BBDO, for example, released a line of funny tees that practically threaten others to keep their distance. And in this PSA, from Ogilvy Health, the State of New York turns to a supernatural serial killer to do the job.
The comedic ad features a protagonist who bears a striking resemblance to Jason Voorhees, the slasher star of the “Friday the 13th” franchise. He walks around the streets of New York City wearing his iconic hockey mask, sending passersby sharply in the opposite direction.
His voiceover reveals his dismay at people’s reactions—he explains that “the mask makes people feel uncomfortable,” but he’s just a normal guy, “trying to fit in.” He even has a cat, he says.
It’s not until the finale that we discover the real reason he frightens others. A young girl walks up to him and gives him a proper face mask, which should do a better job at preventing virus transmission. “Wearing a mask can be scary,” the end line reads. “Not wearing one can be deadly.”
"Wearing a mask has proven to be an easy and important way to stem the spread of the coronavirus, yet many New Yorkers still aren’t doing it," says Toby Trygg, exective creative director at Ogilvy Health. "This is especially true of younger people who may feel invincible to COVID-19." The task was to get them to pay attention to safety messages, and the strategy hinged on doing that though entertainment. "Tap into pop culture. Don’t preach. Don’t fear-monger. Do the opposite. Make them smile, engage and share with their peers," he says.
The film was directed by Sam O'Hare and produced out of Chimney.