Creator of Alberta's 'Mr. Covid' ad campaign happy about response
EDMONTON -- An ad man behind Alberta's much talked-about COVID-19 awareness campaign says he's happy about the attention it has received.
Kurt Beaudoin of ZGM Modern Marketing Partners in Edmonton says more than 400,000 people have watched the company's two “COVID loves” ads, which were put out last week.
The ads follow a man with a giant head that looks like the novel coronavirus as he enjoys parties, family gatherings and a Christmas dinner.
Beaudoin says that much like COVID-19, the character he calls Mr. Covid or Creepy Uncle Covid is a real shape-shifter and can blend seamlessly into any place where people are gathering.
The UCP government approached Beaudoin’s agency to create a relatable campaign for people between 18 and 40 years old.
"The government talked to us about this age group of 18 to 40-year-olds who wasn't really following the guidelines as closely as some of the other age groups were." Beaudoin told CTV News Edmonton.
"The usual tone of messaging wasn't breaking through, or it was starting to be fatigued for this particular audience," the director of storytelling said. "So we wanted to try a different approach, a different angle with them to see if we could get a shift in their behavior."
The ad man says roughly six weeks after the government's initial ask, the PSAs were on the air.
He says he's not necessarily surprised that the Edmonton-produced ads have garnered attention, but wasn't expecting the level of attention they've received.
"I certainly haven't been interviewed this often for our typical campaigns," laughed Beaudoin. "When the government's your client you sort of automatically have a bit of a target and then if it's to do with this very sensitive issue, of course it'll get some attention there too."
A Fort Saskatchewan company just outside of Edmonton sculpted the foam, rubber and plastic head of Mr. Covid.
The owner of Ravenous EFX said his company has been bombarded with phones calls from Albertans demanding Mr. Covid merchandise.
“I've been getting contacted by people that are wanting either collectible statues or mask replicas and things like that,” says Travis Shewchuk.
“It's been crazy the amount of weird requests we've had, even down to Christmas ornaments.”
The Royal Alberta Museum has also reached out to Shewchuk and asked for a replica of the head for an upcoming instalment about COVID-19.
These weren't the first COVID-19 awareness ads Beaudoin has worked on, but says the new ones are much different from his previous work.
"It was almost like for this group, you know hearing the rules and the guidelines was kind of actually motivating them to want to go against the rules and guidelines," he said. "So we wanted to create something really popular and shareable that made it clear that the cool thing to do, to be on this side of the story we're telling, is to follow the guidelines."
Beaudoin defends the somewhat dark comedic tone to the ads that has drawn some criticism, saying attention is good.
"The worst thing that could happen would be for nothing to happen."
He says a couple more ads are coming ahead of Christmas and New Year's. One takes place at a birthday party, the other at a wedding.
Mr. Covid will also be appearing on the video-sharing social media platform Tik Tok.
"He learned three of the most popular Tik Tok dances, including the renegade. So you can view those if you're a Tik Tok follower."
With files from The Canadian Press.