'COVID-19 loves parties': Alberta government launches ads to curb the spread
It's tough to say what is more frightening about the Alberta government's new holiday ad campaign – the message of how easily the virus can spread or that mask.
CALGARY -- It's tough to say what is more frightening about the Alberta government's new holiday ad campaign – the message of how easily the virus can spread or that mask.
The advertisements, published to YouTube on Friday, both share the message that COVID-19 loves gatherings such as parties and holiday get-togethers, where the virus can spread to a number of people in a short period of time.
Both videos depict an individual dressed up for a party wearing a giant mask bearing a gleaming toothy grin and the telltale red corona structures known to be associated with the virus.
In association with the pair of videos, the Alberta government launched its COVIDloves.ca website, which shares a number of important messages about prevention of the spread of the virus.
Many of the typical guidelines are included on the website, such as wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer and social distancing among others.
The province also included a "myths and facts" section that includes some details about the pandemic that some Albertans might not know about.
"There's no evidence your pets can give you COVID-19, but tons of evidence they love you," the site says in response to a query about whether or not doggy kisses spread the virus.
It also says picking up the mail is safe, considering there is no proof the virus can live on letters.
When it comes to home remedies such as oregano oil, apple cider vinegar and "crystals," the website's answer is simple.
"COVID-19 laughs at these."
'EVERY TOOL AT OUR DISPOSAL'
Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the ads were created to appeal to residents under the age of 40 and were an attempt to use humour to spread the message that people have unfortunately "tuned out."
Both were filmed in November and she says the actors followed all health protocols in regards to the pandemic.
"Our goal is to get people's attention, to help them see common situations from a different perspective and as a result, to influence their behaviour.
"The campaign uses humour because the situation is serious. We need to use every tool at our disposal to reach all Albertans."
Advertising experts in Calgary call the provincial government's "COVID loves" campaign an interesting approach to reach a wider audience.
Mohammed El Hazzouri, an associate professor of marketing at Mount Royal University, says the humour approach is an effective way to go.
"It gets you to laugh and you are less defensive about the information being presented."
The alternative method, fear, may not have been as widely accepted, El Hazzouri says.
"People tend to get defensive about it and we've had a tough year."
Meanwhile, the ads have resonated well so far with some Albertans who call them "quite funny."
"COVID spreads everywhere, especially at parties," said Calgarian Matthew Riddell. "It was good to have a comedic turn to it."
Others, however, feel that many Albertans are set in their behaviours and an ad campaign will unlikely change anything.
"I think, at the end of the day, humans are going to be humans. They are going to do what they want to do," said Deven Sethi.
"Is this advertisement going to stop the spread of COVID? I don't think so. People are going to keep doing whatever they want to do."