“Persuasion is an art, not a science.”

Bill Bernbach; One of the most important and influential figures in the history of modern advertising.

As the use of face masks is increasingly becoming mandatory in public places, society has had to quickly adapt. And when it comes to encouraging the public to wear a face mask, the advertising industry might be just what the doctor ordered. We succeed at persuading when we are able to connect emotionally with our audience. And that is the heart and soul of every advertising agency Although data and facts are vital – and indeed the driving force behind the COVID-19 mask mandate – it’s not always influential enough on its own to drive change. We also need that vital ingredient of motivation.

Let’s look at the abundance of blatantly generic, tone- deaf “Mask Required” notifications, plastered on store fronts and business entrances. No doubt the information on these signs is vitally important. And we should follow the instructions and put on our mask before we enter. But the problem is, even if we agree with the validity of the signs, it’s often not enough to cause us to change our behavior. And thus we walk into the store sans face mask.

So what’s the solution? How can we convince a population that wearing a mask while we’re in the midst the Coronavirus pandemic is critical? Let’s defer back to Bernback’s quote at the beginning of this article: “Persuasion is an art, not a science.” With that in mind, maybe by adding a little art – a little creativity and flair – to the signs, we will be able to appeal to and encourage more of the population to become active mask-wearers.

It’s difficult to change our habits — even when we know it would benefit us. We may fully be aware that an apple is a more nutritious snack than a bag of chips. We may understand and nod our heads in agreement with the nutritional science behind it. However, come crunch time, we still reach for the chips. Our brain knows it’s not as good for us, but our hearts haven’t been persuaded to make the change.

As Praveen Vaidyanathan, in his article “Don’t Apologise, Adland“, puts it: “Advertising can act as a psychological primer for important social change. Which means, we can tell people it’s cool to wear recycled clothes; save energy; eat food waste; stay comfortable; or even resist consumerism.”

And I’ll add here – tell people it’s cool to wear a facemask.

And that’s the goal of ONE MINUTE BRIEFS (OMB) — an online community of incredibly quick-thinking industry creatives affectionately known as the “Ombles”. Each day, OMB tweets a request asking for creative ideas to help tackle a specific problem – either on behalf of a brand or to promote social good. When recently tasked with the challenge of encouraging people to wear masks, this vibrant and innovative group of creatives responded with ideas that were brilliant, unique, playful, and most importantly, persuasive.

Below are just some of the OMBLE’s awesome face mask designs, public signage and posters. And, the best part, if you would like to download a sign for your place of business, feel free. We’d love it if you could post a photograph of the sign you use and post to Twitter and tag @OneMinuteBriefs and/or the artist’s Twitter handle.


I hope you enjoyed the creative and inspiring work of these talented industry creatives. It might not be possible to persuade all of the population to love & wear a face mask, but the more people that can be encouraged, reminded or persuaded to do so, the greater the chance society has to flatten the Coronavirus curve.

More Cool Stuff: If you love reading about how the psychology of advertising design can motivate and change the behavior of even the most reluctant individuals, you’ll enjoy The Art of Tackling Today’s Environmental Issues – How to Lend Your Creative Talent to Help.


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