'Don't accidentally kill someone,' says Oregon coronavirus public service spot

Campaign from Wieden+Kennedy uses the plainest words possible to push importance of social distancing.

The State of Oregon, in a public service campaign created by Wieden+Kennedy Portland, doesn’t mince words: "Don’t accidentally kill someone."

This chilling thought is the centerpiece of one anxiety-provoking, yellow-tape spot that warns Oregonians to stay home to avoid the spread of this virus. "Don’t accidentally kill someone" also closes out a second, warmer PSA, that lauds the ordinary heroes of these times, nurses, doctors, bus drivers, janitors, who continue to work as they support others.

Additionally, the Stay Home, Save Lives campaign spans state Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages, where the profile picture asks, "Did you accidentally kill someone today?"

Gov. Kate Brown debuted the public awareness campaign today, in conjunction with the Oregon Health Authority and Wieden+Kennedy. 

"We are facing an unprecedented crisis. None of us have been through anything like this before," said Brown. "The single most important thing each of us can do to protect our community and frontline workers and to save lives right now is stay home."

As the coronavirus death toll passed 2,000 in the United States Saturday afternoon and reached 20 in Oregon, adjacent to the hotspot state of Washington, the pull-no-punches tone makes a lot of sense.

In the spot, which features a pumping ventilator soundtrack, a series of statements unbearably unwind over 30 seconds. "1.4 percent of all Oregonians could die. An average person knows 600 people. Which means 5 people you know could lose their lives. Your kids' school teacher, your neighbor, your teacher, your barista." You get the daunting point.

"We created this campaign with the governor because we don’t want to look back and wish we had done more," said Jason Bagley, who steered the campaign alongside fellow Wieden+Kennedy executive creative director, Eric Baldwin. "We have a lot of heart for Oregon and all who live here, and we know that staying home will save lives. This campaign provides clarity and conviction around what staying at home means — and how we all have a role to play to help our community."

The Stay Home, Save Lives message will blanket the state in the coming days and weeks, covering television, radio, social media and online advertising.

Wieden+Kennedy tapped into Oregon Health & Science University to obtain this urgent POV from doctors and scientists. The agency, which worked pro bono on this, was cleared to support the state through its existing contract with Travel Oregon. 

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