Washing one’s hands frequently is something everyone can do to protect themselves from catching the common cold and even the coronavirus. Yet, there’s so much confusion out there about how long it takes to wash away potential pathogens.
A couple of staffers at 72andSunny in Los Angeles decided to take things into their own, ahem, hands.
Natalie Rempalski, a senior strategist, and Maddie McDowell, a senior writer, at the agency put together a series of posters to put above sinks that are meant to keep people preoccupied for around 20 seconds, while they wash.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends washing hands for 20 seconds, with soap and plenty of hot water. That’s an eternity in a world where up to 69 percent of men don’t bother washing their hands after using the bathroom, according to a CDC report.
"Coronavirus is the topic of pretty much everyone's conversations right now," said Rempalski. "I started digging into what we could do to help and learned hand washing was the most effective way to prevent the spread of the virus—but was shocked to learn most people underestimate how long they're washing for."
Rempalski got together with her colleague, McDowell, and they put together eight posters to read while washing.
Some are amusing, like the one headlined, "Please touch yourself" which continues, "Go on, the more friction the better." Others are more existential. "I do not want to die," goes the headline, with copy that ends, "I just wanted to say, I loved you."
They created two versions that, Mad Libs-style, leave some blank spaces for users to dream up their own copy.
The posters are available for download on a website, WordsToWashBy and on a Pinterest page.
"We put this effort together in less than a week," said McDowell. "We felt compelled to make something that was a super practical way to combat our invisible virus foe. This is certainly a serious issue, but we realized that by using a more humorous tone in our posters we could actually engage people more and achieve our desired outcome almost unconsciously, rather than leading with bad news and having people tune us out."
Also working on the project at 72andSunny Los Angeles were creative directors Danny Duran and Greg Shadwick and executive print producer, Dee Davis.