Viola Davis, Simone Biles, Questlove Make Striking Appeal to Black Americans to Wear Masks

See the Ad Council's latest pointed Covid PSAs

In a coronavirus safety campaign, Viola Davis, Simone Biles, Questlove and others mask up, urging fellow Black Americans to follow suit and help stem the spread of Covid-19.

3AM, a division of entertainment agency Wild Card Creative Group, developed the PSAs under the aegis of the Ad Council on behalf of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In this 60-second anthem, a dozen famous faces appear, partially hidden by cloth and gauze, with each subject speaking a few lines of narration:

You Will See Me | Coronavirus Response | Ad Council

"Even though there is so much against us, you will see me choose to protect myself and my community from the coronavirus by wearing a face covering," the ad begins. "Because it's going to take all of us thinking about one another. And even with my face covered, you will see me. You will see me as a mother, a wife, a friend. As an athlete that gave everything to the game I love. As a father leading by example. As a sister. An entertainer. A champion for my people."

At one point, Black Lives Matter demonstration footage appears, along with a call for "demanding the space to tell the stories that matter."

Black-ish actor Marcus Scribner headlines a second spot:

You Will See Me - Marcus Scribner | Coronavirus Response | Ad Council

Both ads close by reminding viewers, "Covering your face is one small act of kindness that has the power to bring us all together."

Combining themes of pandemic awareness and social justice makes sense, as communities of color have suffered disproportionately during the outbreak. Research shows an infection rate of 62 per 100,000 among Black Americans, compared to 23 per 100,000 for whites. In some U.S. cities, Black people account for more than half of Covid-19 deaths, though they comprise 12 percent of the nation's population. (Race relations and Covid also mixed in this Ad Council PSA about anti-Asian bigotry.)

Ad Council president Lisa Sherman calls the "You Will See Me" campaign, "a message of inspiration and motivation to keep up the fight. We know that face masks are the single most effective way we can protect others from the virus. This is a powerful and critical platform for the Black community."

3AM "cast a wide net" to include representatives "from different segments of the multi-faceted Black community," says agency chief marketing officer Tara DeVeaux. "Viola Davis is a legend whose voice is almost as recognizable as her face. But ensuring we reached the faith-based community with talent like Kirk Franklin and Lacrae, and a younger Black audience with someone like Marcus Scribner, enabled us to have the broadest reach."

Planning commenced as racial tension erupted across the country. Understandably, such upheaval influenced creative development.

"We were briefed on this project about a week after the Ahmaud Arbery shooting gained national attention," DeVeaux recalls. "In our very first conversation with the Ad Council, we said we'd love to tackle the brief as long as they were open to us developing a campaign that also addressed the risks Black Americans face while wearing masks. They wholeheartedly agreed."

As remote production began under lockdown conditions, "George Floyd was killed," says DeVeaux. "His murder had a tremendous impact on the whole team. We cried together and learned from each other, but our resolve was strong. The primary message of 'You Will See Me' is to wear a face mask to protect yourself and your community from the coronavirus but a strong secondary message is that we, as Black people, want to be seen for the human beings we are under the mask."
 
The anthem ad features, in order of appearance:
Viola Davis
Black Thought from the Roots
Marcus Scribner
Al Shearer
Stephen A. Smith
Victor Cruz
Lecrae
Lala Anthony
Deon Cole
Simone Biles
Questlove of the Roots
Kirk Franklin

CREDITS

Client: Ad Council x CDC 
Heidi Aurthur, Chief Campaign Development Officer 
Tracy Danich, VP, Campaign Director 
Anna Rodriguez, Campaign Director 
Anuar Saab, Campaign Manager  
Ellyn Fisher, SVP, Marketing and Communications
Emily Kostic, Director, Public Relations, Social Media & Brand
Christine Medina, VP, Digital Product 
Lina Rezina, Talent Relations and Partnerships Manager
Felicia Carmichael, Director of Media, Social and Emerging 

Agency: Wild Card | 3AM 
Tara DeVeaux, EVP, Chief Marketing Officer
Evan DeHaven, Executive Creative Director
Molly Douglas, Creative Director / Writer
Amber Wade, Producer
Wilson Saloj, Designer 
Shawn Shahani, Director of Insights 
Fredrick Brown, Senior Strategist
Victoria Carter, Marketing Coordinator
Tracey Smith, Casting Director
Ada Lovecraft, Web Developer
Grace Mekarski, Web Developer

Post- Production 
Louie Lorenzo, VP of Client Services
Pablo Herrero, Producer 
Katie Spritz, Associate Producer 
Chris Bohr, Editor 
Andrew Vann, Editor
Luke Porst, Editor
Charlie Butterworth, Editor
Emily Pietrocarlo, Editor
Jeremy Fisher, Creative Director Graphics
Cameron Starke, Graphics
TJ Lowe, Graphics
Stephanie Koury, Music Director
Lana Bui, Music Supervisor
Teoderico Berberabe, Music Coordinator 
Joshua Strauss, Operations Manager
Scott Sprague, Post Production Manager 
Jack Ritten, Assistant Editor
Pablo Lara, Assistant Editor
Amruta Patil, Assistant Editor

Production: Happy Place, inc.
Tara Razavi, Founder & Creative Producer 
Bille Woodruff, Director 
Danny Yirgou, Director 
Adam Coleman, DP
Peter Mosiman, DP 
Gina Naranjo, Line Producer
Sarahi Salazar, Production Coordinator
Allison Acevedo, Producer
Tony Stackhouse, Post Producer
Brandon Moody, Post Production Coordinator

Finishing: New Wave Entertainment
Shawn Stoner, Post Supervisor/Online Editor
Deloren Hickles, Rerecording Mixer
Sam Dlugach, Colorist
Ed Twiford, Colorist
Ed Molina, Compositor

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