The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has partnered with Warner Brothers media to release a public service announcement encouraging Americans to wear masks in order to slow the spread of coronavirus — and it is not being particularly well-received.
AdAge reports that WarnerMedia partnered with the Ad Council and the CDC to produce the 30-second spot, which envisions some of pop culture’s most iconic characters “masked up” to fight COVID-19, and the ad digs deep into Warner Brothers’ archives, recasting, in some cases, even classic films with characters wearing face masks.
The effort is supposed to encourage Americans to wear face masks in public — something the CDC and the Biden administration both insist is crucial to slow the spread of COVID-19 — but the list of characters digitally “masked up” is largely random and, in some cases, villainous.
“The 30-second PSA features memorable moments from WarnerMedia films, played out with one caveat—all the characters are wearing masks, no matter the circumstances,” AdAge notes. “Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort wear masks during their final battle in ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’; Pennywise from ‘It’ sports a smiling clown mask as a red balloon floats in front of him; and the Joker dances in the popular stair scene from the ‘The Joker’ with a mask that matches his suit. We also see Dr. Evil from ‘Goldmember,’ Rick and Ilsa from ‘Casablanca’ and Wonder Woman from ‘Wonder Woman,’ among other familiar characters.”
NEW >> @CDCgov partners with @AdCouncil + @WarnerMedia for a new ad where Harry Potter, Wonder Woman, the hobbits, and others urge Americans to mask up and slow the spread. Critical message, especially as we face down variants.
Read more – https://t.co/ritFc5d3bI
— Ian Sams (@IanSams) February 10, 2021
It’s not immediately clear why WarnerMedia felt masking up Lord Voldemort or a creepy clown would somehow encourage Americans to follow suit, but the ad will blanket airwaves on WarnerMedia’s owned networks, including “HBO, Turner, Rooster Teeth, Crunchy Roll, Bleacher Report, Xandr, and AT&T televisions, as well on its own social media channels.”
The ad will run on donated airtime worth millions.
“WarnerMedia is proud to help educate and inform our fans about the importance of mask-wearing during this pandemic,” the company’s senior VP of social responsibility told the outlet. “Wearing a mask is an effective way to protect ourselves and our loved-ones from COVID-19. We hope that by seeing some of our favorite heroes and characters masked up, our fans will follow suit. Mask wearing is a simple step we all can take to show up and support our communities during this difficult time.”
Oddly enough, the ad was unveiled on Wednesday, the same day that the CDC confirmed that it now considers “double-masking” — that is, wearing a tight-fitting cloth mask over a typical surgical mask — to be the most effective method of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
All of the characters shown in the PSA are technically going above and beyond earlier CDC recommendations, with many wearing masks outdoors where they are practicing appropriate social distancing, but none of the characters are double-masked, leaving the ad behind the times.
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