In a new $2-million ad campaign ahead of the winter holiday season, the novel coronavirus is depicted as a fun-loving party attendee set on invading your private gatherings.
In the holiday video, COVID-19 (aka “Uncle Mike”) is greeted warmly at the door carrying some sort of 1950s Jello dessert. The virus then socializes with family, opening presents, downing eggnog and sharing Christmas dinner.
It ends with the tagline “nobody loves the holidays more than COVID-19.”
But the ad’s depiction of COVID-19 as a guy in a Christmas sweater and a truly horrifying mask had some social media users spooked.
The ad is part of the “COVID Loves” campaign launched by the Alberta government Friday. The campaign aims to spread awareness of the settings where COVID-19 can easily spread.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the campaign aims to reach young people.
“The campaign uses humour because the situation is serious,” she told reporters Friday.
In addition to the Christmas video, there’s another featuring the virus at a house party sharing drinks, slow dancing and DJing, with the tagline “nobody loves a house party more than COVID-19.”
The videos’ accompanying website includes cheeky — and horrifying — quotes attributed to the virus, such as “Granny, she’s so small and sweet I could just eat her up” and “BFFs, one less birthday to remember.”
“From Edmonton to East Timor, Covid’s made a name for himself as an international love bug. Poor or rich, young or old, healthy or not, he isn’t picky,” the website reads.
WATCH: Alberta reports new COVID-19 cases. Story continues below.
The site also lists general advice for preventing the spread of the virus like washing your hands and avoiding gatherings, in addition to informational resources from the Alberta government.
Alberta is currently experiencing one of the worst COVID-19 surges in Canada with the highest per capita rate of active cases. New restrictions in the province go into effect this weekend, including the closure of dine-in and personal care services and capacity limits on retail and faith services.
But I still can’t get the image of a giant COVID-19 virus in a Christmas sweater slurping eggnog — that’s going to haunt my dreams for a long while.