#AloneTogether PSAs by ViacomCBS and the Ad Council Urge Social Distancing

Trevor Noah, David Spade step up

In the video below, part of a PSA campaign from ViacomCBS and the Ad Council, Daily Show host Trevor Noah discusses the importance of social distancing—aka, staying at home to avoid infecting others or risk infection—in the battle against coronavirus:

"We won't be recording anything from the studio, because we're trying to do our part to socially distance ourselves," Noah says, then digs into some specifics, such as remaining six to 10 feet from other human beings whenever possible.

"The longer we stay out there" in public places, especially gathering in groups, "the longer coronavirus remains a threat," he says.

VicaomCBS Entertainment & Youth Brands such as MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, CMT and VH1 are spearheading the campaign.

Noah's pitch feels sober and sincere, like advice from your big brother with his own late-night show. Lights Out host David Spade, however, goes full stream of consciousness, weaving crickets, pornography, snails, his mom's back surgery, raccoons, découpage, Tom Hanks and Godzilla into a subversively silly monologue:

Yes, Spade's show also halted production, but judging from that performance, dude won't lose his edge.

Both stars promise to connect with fans again via social in coming days. More self-shot videos and live takeovers from Viacom's music and celebrity talent are on tap as #AloneTogether expands across the company's global platforms.

Also in the mix are copy-driven mobile spots crafted by MTV's digital and creative teams. "If you have symptoms, stay home!" one begins, quickly adding, "If you don't have symptoms and can stay home—stay home!"

#AloneTogether

These nuggets close with the promise, "We'll be there to keep you company."

Indeed, it feels comforting in these uncertain times to know that our media heroes and the content they deliver are just a click away.

"With an 850 million-plus footprint, social/digital allows us to reach our youngest-skewing audiences with this campaign," Jacqueline Parkes CMO and EVP digital studios, Entertainment & Youth brands at ViacomCBS, tells Muse. "Reaching that audience is so critical for spreading awareness around the importance of social distancing and helping to flatten the curve."

Parkes tells us her team devised the campaign over the weekend, after "looking at their social feeds and seeing pictures of kids on Bourbon Street being let out of colleges, going to bars, and we realized that there's a communications crisis in terms of young people understanding their role in this."

What began as a text exchange among 10 people "quickly expanded," Parkes says. "We were all required to work from home since Thursday, and used our laptops and phones to drum up TikTok and Instagram-ready designs [for the ads] within six hours. It evolved to a cross-team, cross-brand effort, and with the Ad Council coming in as a partner, we were able to launch the social campaign on Monday with the #AloneTogether identity, as well as all the great postings from our talent."

In the first 24 hours, she says, the effort generated nearly 30 million impressions and about 15 million video views.

"The COVID-19 virus has impacted our lives in every possible way," says Ad Council CEO and president Lisa Sherman. "There is no doubt that we are in uncharted territory, with many Americans feeling confused and fearful about what's to come and how they can best prepare. So to better educate, protect and support our communities across the country, the Ad Council is doing what we do every day: using the power of communications to help improve the daily lives of people across the country."

She adds: "Our mission has always been to harness the power of communications for social good, and in times like now—when unease, fear, and confusion are stretching across the globe—it is critical that we come together to provide guidance, education, support and comfort."

The organization is working with the White House, Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Health and Human Services and media partners (including NBCUniversal, The Atlantic, iHeart Media and others, in addition to ViacomCBS) to provide critical information.

This work is brand/media agnostic, available for use by all media companies and platforms. 

Below, digital ads created by NBC on behalf of HHS/CDC direct high-risk individuals (including the elderly and folks with underlying health issues) to coronavirus.gov for up-to-date information:

"By joining forces," Sherman says, "we're able to use our combined reach to impact high-risk populations and the general public with necessary messages around social distancing, personal hygiene and mental health."

More creative materials are expected in the coming days and weeks.

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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