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Who Said Social Awareness Should Be Boring?

A fun and friendly nudge might be just what we need to convey serious messages in times of crisis.

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Who Said Social Awareness Should Be Boring
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

COVID-19 brought new challenges to governments and organizations. Keeping citizens in the know about the new viral threat and helping them to understand essential safety measures became a critical need of the hour to curb its rapid spread.

On one side, preventing misinformation and ensuring that the right facts reach the masses became a priority. At the same time, protecting them from a deadly virus never seen before required urgent and unfamiliar changes in behavior, from wearing masks to maintaining a social distance. And all these demanded massive communication campaigns.

But for many, COVID-19 social awareness centered on the grave dangers of the global health scare. These campaigns were designed to match the seriousness of the viral threat and served to instill urgency and concern to inspire action.

But some have taken a fresh approach to social awareness. They’re using fun and humor to drive serious messages. Instead of banking on fear and anxiety, they’ve chosen a friendly nudge towards positive behavior.

Quaran — The quarantine mascot

Japan has had its fair share of the deadly pandemic. But its Ministry of Health didn’t forget to inject some fun into its COVID-prevention strategy.

Japan is a country that has a mascot for pretty much everything you can think of. So the pandemic got one, too. Quaran is a friendly, bubble-shaped mascot that has become an important part of the country’s Quarantine Information Office. And it’s making regular public appearances, particularly at the airports.

Source: Mondo Mascots via Twitter

Quaran stems from Japan’s popular kawaii culture. For decades, the Japanese have had a soft spot for all things lovable, cuddly, and adorable, a characteristic that’s commonly known as kawaii. So, introducing Quaran seems like the perfect solution to ease the general tension, anxiety, and worry, and guide everyone towards safety.

The coronavirus song

The Ministry of Health in Vietnam made their coronavirus awareness messages go viral, quite literally. They made use of their popular V-pop culture that claimed a massive following.

This gave birth to the official coronavirus song, “Ghen Co Vy”, which translates to English as the “Jealous Coronavirus”. The catchy tune was designed to provide crisp, clear messages about the pandemic and essential steps to fight it. The animations and lyrics were simple and straightforward and were easily understood by a wide audience, both urban and rural.

Source: Min Official via YouTube

The popularity of the video, which drew in over 70 million views, multiplied when the popular Vietnamese dancer Quang Dang put out a dance video to its tune. This instantly went viral all over social media. And on TikTok, it gave rise to the #ghencovychallenge, a dance challenge that took off like wildfire, and even went global.

Source: Quang Dang via YouTube

The government’s coronavirus song made safety precautions against the pandemic a topic of interest instead of dread. It became part of conversations and popular culture, assuring greater interest and action towards positive behavior. This seems a particularly clever strategy in a country with a median age of just 32.5 years.

#COVidiotsareoutthere

The risks of contracting COVID-19 generally surge during festive times like Christmas and the New Year. It’s when gatherings of friends, family, and even strangers take a new high. And with all the euphoria of celebrations and perhaps a little intoxication, safety could easily slip. And just a few irresponsible people could be enough to send everyone into quarantine.

So, Vh1 India launched #COVidiotsareoutthere. It’s a witty campaign that used videos and memes to draw a new level of awareness about the possible hazards of reckless behavior during COVID times.

Source: Vh1 via Twitter

With some lighthearted humor, it brought renewed focus on the importance of personal safety. And the message was loud and clear — #COVidiots are out there, so watch out and keep your distance.

Lightening the mood in times of crisis

But is lighthearted fun really effective? Science says it is. Studies show that it could be particularly beneficial in times of stress to ease tension, worry, and anxiety. It can even help boost the body’s immune response.

And it’s the perfect antidote to reach a wider audience with its universal appeal that can cut across all ages. Besides, who said social awareness should be dry and boring? Friendly messaging could be just the way to make your communications more engaging and effective in those tense moments.

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