The Best of COVID-19 PSAs
In times of need, we turn to the airwaves. Not only as viewers, but also as marketers with critical missions to support. Whether it’s to rally help after a natural disaster, a way to care for troops as they return home from duty, or an appeal to help fund cancer research, TV and radio stations, networks and cable, hear the call and donate airtime. The days of COVID-19 are no different, but certainly they are unique.
Since WWII, our media has been there in times of great need. Public service announcements (PSAs) are a powerful tool used to educate the public on a variety of issues, with COVID-19 at the forefront in 2020.
According to the NAB, stations have donated some $65 million to COVID-19-related PSAs, but I think that is a very low estimate. As a consultant to many nonprofits and a specialist in earned media, I keep up with public service annoucnements (PSAs) on a daily basis, so I’m sure it’s more than $500 million by now. It’s a testament to the power of PSAs and the good that the media can do.
Challenging times like these have the potential to bring out the best in creativity from the advertising community. And that is exactly what has happened! I’ve watched more than 100 different videos from states such as Minnesota, Tennessee, New York, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, Texas. I’ve watched PSAs with politicians, animated characters, celebrities, and regular joes.
Without further ado, here are some of the most interesting and localized PSAs I have watched so far. (No doubt, as soon as I press publish on this post, there will be a host of new PSAs, as organizations are continually updating their messages to deal with the newest stage of fighting the pandemic. I’ll try to update this from time to time!)
From Oregon—I always appreciate a “do the math” angle.
Another ways of representing the “math”. Here, Ohio uses ping pong balls, which in my opinion is much more effective imagery than illustrations of people and masks.
I appreciate this local approach of encouraging the city of San Antonio to use “teamwork” just like their NBA team does on the court, to fight COVID-19.
While the production value is low budget, I think the creative approach of “opposite month” in Connecticut does make people stop and think.
I can’t embed this video, but the message makes it worth a watch. I think Kentucky did it right by adding a mention about reaching out for help if your mental health is taking a hit during the pandemic.
An absolutely wacky PSA from Hawaii’s Department of Health featuring comedian Frank de Lima below. BUT, before you write this off, research conducted after indicates that “those who remembered a public service announcement featuring Frank De Lima are more likely to recognize COVID-19 as a threat to their households and to correctly identify symptoms associated with the virus.”
Here’s a fairly new PSA that was sourced through a creative contest. They received over 600 submissions! Created in New York, by New Yorkers, for New Yorkers.
OTHER COOL TAKES
The United Nations Foundation and Minecraft teamed up to reach younger new audices with #BlockCOVID19. I always appreciate clever ways for a brand to incorporate messages into their own speak.
Here’s LEGO’s take on it, from the U.K.
This campaign “We are the Countervirus” is a worldwide effort, with digital and OOH appearing in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, the U.S. and U.K. I like the solid, consistent look.
Many famous voices have lended their support to the cause. Here’s one of the best ones.
How fitting for Kevin Bacon to play on the “six degrees from Kevin Bacon” phrase and use it spread a good message.
If you’re interested in a good roundup of Hollywood PSAs, here’s a great round up from Deadline.
And last but not least, this is not a PSA, but it almost acted like one considering Neil Diamond’s reach.