Zulu Alpha Kilo urges Canadians to #StayHome with new campaign

Who: Zulu Alpha Kilo, with UM Canada, The French Shop, Jumpstart communications, Tattoo Sound & Music.

What: #StayHome, a campaign urging Canadians to stay at home in an effort to flatten the curve during the COVID crisis. ZAK is calling it the most important campaign in its history.

ZAK CEO and chief creative officer Zak Mroueh says the idea to use the agency’s creative resources first came to him during a sleepless night last Monday. The next morning, working with group planning director Maxine Thomas, they briefed the creative team around the insight that COVID is deadly, but people’s attitude toward it is even deadlier.

(It is also the first project that Mroueh worked on with the agency’s recently appointed executive creative director, Wain Choi.)

When & Where: The campaign broke today and will run throughout the COVID pandemic. It is running across digital out-of-home and social, while UM is also working to get the video creative onto TV.

The audience is everybody, says Mroueh, but with a specific focus on “risk-takers” who aren’t heeding public safety messages. “They just aren’t getting the message about the life and death aspect, and how important it is to stay home,” he says.

Why: Because it is vitally important that Canadians practice social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and staying home is a proven tactic. At the same time, there are still multiple reports of Canadians (and Americans) ignoring stay-at-home warnings and gathering in places like parks—actions that hinder efforts to flatten the curve.

How: The campaign’s centrepiece is a reimagining of the Canadian, Quebec and American flags, with key elements such as the Canadian flag’s maple leaf, the Quebec flag’s fleur-de-lis and the American flag’s stars replaced by a simple outline of a house. “The thought was that the maple leaf and star symbols represent the outdoors, so we converted them to a symbol of indoors,” says Mroueh.

The TV ads are soundtracked by a home demo version of the respective country’s national anthem developed by Tattoo Sound & Music and performed by Toronto singer Ellis Barkman.

Social: Instagram story executions feature a series of invitations to events like a baby shower, a birthday party etc., except the standard RSVP has been changed to read “Rethink Social Visits Please.”

Other Instagram ads recreate text exchanges about seemingly routine get-togethers that are anything but during the health crisis. The texts highlight words like “sick,” “dying” and “deadly,” for example: “You have a good pick-up game this morning? Great! My jumper was DEADLY.”

ZAK also created a public Facebook profile named “Uninvited Guest” (coronavirus) that seeks out and responds to public events scheduled for the near future, with organizers receiving notifications that “Covid-19 is coming to your event.”

There’s also a planned online game called “Covid Crossing,” in which decisions related to the health crisis—such as “Do you want to go outside?” and “Wash hands?”—can lead to a “game over” screen among people who choose incorrectly.

What else? Zulu added the flag logo to staff members’ e-mail signature, and changed their signatures to include their “stay at home job title,” such as Wain Choi, Stay at Home ECD. The agency made the stay at home assets easily downloadable, and has sent the campaign elements to the Office of the Prime Minister for his consideration in using them to amplify current government messaging about the importance of staying home. Zulu is inviting other agencies/clients to use the flag logos, but that they not submit any of the resulting work into awards shows.

And we quote: “We’re encouraging anyone—agencies, brands, consumers, to leverage this viral brand and implement the ‘Stay Home’ logo for their own use, so they can continue to support the rally cry for the country and the world.” — Zulu Alpha Kilo founder and chief creative officer, Zak Mroueh.







Chris Powell