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Around the world in clever Covid-19 adverts

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A tongue-in-cheek Covid-19 public service announcement from Germany elevating “lazy as racoons” couch potatoes to certified heroes became a social media sensation over the weekend. Many coronavirus-awareness adverts rely on fear or strike a sombre note with now-familiar tropes – the rising drone shots of empty cityscapes and swell of wistful music. But another genre sets itself apart with humour or clever takes on the way we live now, often with an eye to reaching young people. FRANCE 24 takes a look at some of the world’s best.

Germany

This instant classic went viral after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, shared it on Twitter on Saturday with the hashtag #besonderehelden or #veryspecialheroes.

It features one Anton Lehmann, now an old man in the future, harking back to his youth. “It was winter 2020. Everyone’s eyes were on us. I was 22 years old, a mechanical engineering student in Chemnitz, when the second wave hit,” he recounts. “When the invisible danger threatened everything we held dear, we summoned all our courage and did what was expected of us – the only right thing,” Lehmann says, as the soundtrack swells to a climax before suddenly scratching to a halt. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Lazy as raccoons,” he explains.

The young Lehmann spends the rest of the clip scarfing junk food and watching television. “Our sofa was our frontline and our patience our weapon,” his future self narrates.

The viral video even reached Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Have you seen Germany’s new ads about Covid-19? It doesn’t matter what language you speak, the message is clear,” Trudeau tweeted on Monday, “You can be the hero in the fight against this virus – and you don’t even have to do that much.”

A second public service announcement (PSA) in the German series shows Lehmann’s wife, Luise, recounting her version of 2020, as the young Lehmann play-salutes her from their bed with a drumstick out of a takeaway bucket of fried chicken.

Russia

This Russian ad similarly calls on the country’s football fans to embrace domesticity in the face of Covid-19. “Even if you are a football fan, stay at home. Be a man and stay strong!” as director Roman Kulepetov put it.

South Africa

Advertising firm Havas gives recalcitrant anti-maskers a licking with this South African clip that makes the risks all too real as a man blithely uses an automatic teller machine… with his tongue. “If you don’t wear a mask, you might as well do this. Don’t be a #Covidiot.” The series features other videos along the same lines; one involves elevator buttons, the other the slurping of an escalator handrail. A disclaimer reassures viewers that no Covidiots were harmed in the making of the dramatisation.

Italy

The hard-hit Lombardy Region of Italy called on football star Zlatan Ibrahimovic to deploy his playfully supercilious persona for good in this short message after the AC Milan striker tested positive for coronavirus in September. “The virus challenged

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