You can now buy Donald Trump branded body bags

Three Canadian creatives are drawing attention to the dangerous repercussions of halting funding to the W.H.O.


When it was reported by The Washington Post that the U.S. Department of the Treasury ordered President Donald Trump’s name to be printed on stimulus cheques to economically assist Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic – causing concerned reactions with the possibility of delays with these cheques – it sparked a jarring marketing initiative for three Canadian creatives.

“It was like, ‘oh my god, if he wants to have his name on these cheques so bad, he should probably have his name on the bodies that have piled up so far, and even more [so] in marginalized communities,’” says Xavier Blais, partner and creative director at Rethink. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18.6% of all deaths during that week were due to pneumonia, influenza or COVID-19.

1FEFCD6A-4B9F-40A3-A305-A7400D2A69D0-546-00000029E48D7594Blais, along with Alexandre Pellerin, associate creative director at Sid Lee Toronto, and Alexis Caron-Côté, copywriter at Sid Lee Montréal, were motivated to launch a personal creative project outside of their agency work, called “Trump Body Bags.” The black body bags – which have “Trump 2020” emblazoned on them – aim “to crystalize the fatal mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis by the Trump Administration,” the project’s website states. They come with toe tags featuring the U.S. president’s signature.

The body bags are available for purchase online for $500, with the profits going to the World Health Organization’s COVID-Solidarity Response Fund. As of last week, there have been two purchases of the Trump Body Bags – both from people in Canada.

President Trump announced on April 14 that his administration would halt U.S. funding to the W.H.O., as he expressed “deep concerns” about whether or not the country’s money has been put to the best use.

The project isn’t trying to “attract attention” simply for the sake of generating any kind of buzz, Blais notes, but instead wanting to say something about how stopping funding to the W.H.O. is “potentially dangerous” as the pandemic continues. Heads of state and global health leaders – like W.H.O. director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – recently announced the launch of a COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, a “landmark collaboration” to expedite the development, creation and equitable delivery of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics for COVID-19.

“It’s kind of raising attention to the fact that people can donate and make a difference, for themselves. Obviously, the body bag is a dark and eye-catching way to attract attention and raise awareness,” he says.

Blais says that he, Pellerin and Caron-Côté are not necessarily saying that President Trump has “blood on his hands” when it comes to his handling of COVID-19. But, “he’s in charge,” Blais says. “It’s not necessarily finger-pointing, but I think he’s got a great deal of responsibility.”

Blais adds that he’s not interested in supporting a party or a political cause with this campaign. “Honestly, I don’t know that it’s responsible for marketing people to get into politicizing,” he says. “To us, it was more of a human thing, than a political thing…it’s about the human aspect of the crisis and the people we’ve lost so far.”

The U.S. has approximately 67,781 COVID-19-related deaths – Canada has 3,766.