Revolve helps resolve an ongoing lack of social distancing

The agency taps a long list of partners to urge Canadians to "step up," one of several that are using creativity to get people to stay home.


As the number of COVID-19 cases in Canada has surged past 2700, public health officials and politicians have been stern with Canadians in daily briefings, instructing them to take social distancing seriously to help further stem the strain the virus puts on the country’s health system.

Nova Scotia agency Revolve is now doing its part to help, urging Canadians to “step up, not out” by abiding the calls to limit the risk of infecting others. It’s using simple messaging, a three colour, predominantly yellow scheme and text, to get this very important message across, along with the hashtag, “#StayHome.”

Dr. Lisa Barrett, physician and clinical scientist of infectious diseases and professor at Dalhousie University, says the medical community is “only as prepared as our population is to step up and stay home.” She warns that “social distancing now, before a massive spike, is necessary. The quicker we self-distance, the quicker we will be on the other side of this.”

Revolve’s CEO Phil Otto said that as professional communicators, the agency saw an opportunity to help influence the behaviour change necessary right now.

“We considered a number of different treatments and settled on one that is bold and simple, and can be built on [as the situation evolves],” Otto says. “We didn’t want this to be clever or look commercial.”

Otto says its staff mobilized over the weekend to develop the campaign and communications strategy, including reaching out to its media partners across Canada for assistance. Otto tells strategy the long list of partners include print (National Post), radio (Stingray, Rogers, MBS), TV (Corus, CBC) and digital (The Coast,, SaltWire, CBC) channels, as as providers in the programmatic (Clue Digital, PMC,) and out-of-home (Pattison Outdoor) categories.

The public is also being encouraged to engage with the campaign on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Otto says the campaign will run for as long as the message needs to be out there. “Likely weeks, not days,” he says.

SafeWordOther agencies have been putting their powers of persuasion to work through their clients in order to get people to understand the importance of social distancing. Sid Lee’s Paris office created a social campaign for condom brand Skyn encouraging people to “stay and fuck at home,” a twist on the “#staythefuckhome” hashtag people have been using themselves on social media this month. Typical with the brand’s voice, the campaign features copy like “go to town without leaving the house” and “coming is better than going out,” while other pieces of creative also address issues that have become more common as more people become isolated, like boredom, loneliness and decreased mood. Launched late last week, it has since been localized for social and digital content across global markets.

subwaylogoOne emerging trend is brands modifying their logos to get the message out. Subway Canada, for example, modified its logo to read “stay,” with the arrows pointing to a house emoji in an Instagram story. Coca-Cola spaced out the letters in its brand name on its iconic Times Square billboard.

McDonald’s Brazil separated the “golden arches” in posts across its social accounts, though it drew almost immediate criticism from the public upset that it didn’t guarantee workers paid sick leave and news that it planned to lobby the Trump administration against expanding sick leave in its COVID-19 relief bill. It also faced criticism from some members of the ad industry, who saw it as an attempt to turn a pandemic into an attempt to win awards.