Rona plays the villain in COVID ads targeting millennials

Meet Rona, that malevolent 2020 villain we already hate. 

Rona is a fictional character developed by the Detroit-based creative firm BLVD for a new Michigan advertising campaign that aims to convince young adults to change their behaviors to curb spread of the coronavirus.

A coalition of mostly Michigan businesses, hospitals and corporate foundations is bankrolling the 
$5 million ad campaign in social media, radio, billboards, digital video, television and the Rona4Real website over the next four months.

“This is going to have to be a persistence game—it can’t be a one-shot deal,” Gerry Anderson, executive chairman of DTE Energy, told Crain’s Detroit Business.

Funders of the campaign include DTE Energy, General Motors, Beaumont Health, Henry Ford Health System, Spectrum Health and Oakland University.

Since June, public health experts have been most alarmed by the rising number of cases among young adults under age 30.

Anderson and a steering committee of businesses hired BLVD and Ann Arbor-based marketing and brand communication firm Regroup to develop a strategy that would connect with millennials.

Rona was conceived as an advertising character who could be depicted as the invisible public health threat, said Lisa Richardson, senior vice president of Regroup. “We wanted to make Rona the common enemy,” Richardson said. “We’ve been giving (people) something new to hate.”

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