Video Review: Finalists for State’s ‘Wear a Mask’ Public Service Video

Call it the Academy Awards for the ‘Wear a Mask’ public service video.

In an effort to encourage more people to wear face masks and to better communicate the necessity of covering one’s face in public, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a mask commercial contest.

The goal of the 30-second “Wear a Mask New York” competition was to find one commercial to air on televisions across the state that will spread the message about wearing masks more effectively than the governor feels he can do with his own words.

Around 600 videos have been submitted since the competition opened on May 5, and the contest has been narrowed down to five finalists with the public picking the winner.

And now, without further adieu, our video critic, Amanda Salazar breaks down the finalists

We ❤ NY – Bunny Lake Films

“We ❤ NY” shows a series of clips of New Yorkers wearing face masks in a bunch of different settings, with one line of dialogue being carried throughout with the speaker changing every few words. 

It was clearly made by someone in New York City, as it didn’t show any hints of Upstate or Long Island, though that’s not really a hard sell as it is the case with most of the finalists.

The one string of dialogue was done very well and somehow the voice actors sounded as diverse as the people on the screen looked — some people sounded older, some had accents, some had different inflections.

The video clips were arranged interestingly as well, not always taking up the full screen but arranged in geometric grids as well. The graphics were also bright and colorful, and just overall had a very NYC style.

However, it wasn’t the most unique-feeling commercial. It feels like this is similar to other commercials that the city or state has put out before, but other than that it was done very well.

That Guy – Plastic Tree Productions

“That Guy” is basically a cinematographic masterpiece, or as much so as a 30-second commercial about wearing an uncomfortable face mask can be.

The concept is unique compared to the other finalists in that it wasn’t heartfelt. It wasn’t sweet. It wasn’t uplifting or inspiring or even unifying.

In fact, the whole point was to disunify — by making the man without a mask the “other” and having the passersby around him being, in some way, opposed to him.

It’s funny and smart and conveys the message without even using up the full 30-seconds available and without having to get sappy.

The downside? Maybe making the people who you’re trying to reach with the contest feel like the “other’’ isn’t really the way to go about this. Will the stragglers who are still refusing to wear a mask see this commercial and feel compelled or guilted into wearing a mask? 

Maybe, but probably not.

Other than that, it was a great commercial that really got the point across, at least from the perspective of the people wearing masks who are frustrated with the people who aren’t wearing them.

Do The Right Thing – Ian Bell

“Do The Right Thing,” in which images of the city and state are dispersed with clips of New Yorkers in masks with signs and cheering on essential works, is empowering.

Watching it makes the viewer feel proud to be a New Yorker — if they’re a fan of Cuomo, that is.

The whole video is set to audio of the governor speaking about doing the right thing, and if you don’t have a problem with Cuomo then it becomes very effective.

If the viewer doesn’t like Cuomo and thinks he’s a poor representative of the state and its people, then this commercial might be a miss for them.

The content of what the governor is saying, however, is really beautiful and uplifting, and instead of alienating the people who aren’t wearing masks like in “That Guy,” it angelifies the people who are wearing masks, kind of like a reverse psychology positive reinforcement.

It really brings the governor back into the commercial really well and almost disproves Cuomo’s thoughts that he is a bad communicator, which had been one of the reasons he started the competition.

It turns out that Cuomo is a good communicator; he did have the words to say it, he just didn’t realize it.

And the nod to the classic New York film, Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” cannot go unnoticed or unmentioned. 

Even without the reference to the multi-award-winning movie, the governor’s musings really do solidify the idea of doing the right thing as a New York concept, and that in this case the right thing is to wear a mask.

On the other hand, though, commercials using the governor’s voice have been done before and it can read almost as a campaign ad more than a mask commercial.

It could also really turn off New Yorkers who have a dislike of Cuomo.

You Can Still Smile – Natalia Bougadellis

“You Can Still Smile” is good. Like really good. But right off the bat, seeing it after seeing “We ❤ NY” makes it feel significantly less original, which is unfortunate because it truly is a good piece.

The two commercials both show clips of New Yorkers with audio that doesn’t line up with the visuals, kind of like a montage with people speaking over it. 

They both only show the city, even though the commercial is for the whole state.

This commercial is meaningful and heartfelt, but it’s not much that we haven’t seen before in New York-themed commercials, quite honestly.

Despite that, the visuals are great, the diversity in the people shown and hearing all the reasons and people a person should wear a mask for can really convince somebody to wear a mask that they don’t really want to.

However, I’m not sure it’s the one that stands out the most, especially seeing it after “We ❤ NY,” to which it just feels so similar. The same could be said of “We ❤ NY” had it come after “You Can Still Smile.”

We are Compassion. We are New York – Skyline99 Studios

“We are Compassion. We are New York” definitely seems like the most low-budget of all of the commercials.

Something about the cinematography itself and the way it’s done just don’t seem entirely right, like the camera lingers on one thing for just a second too long or something.

In this one, a young boy hands a mask to an elderly man in a random park somewhere. Messages are written on the boy’s face mask and he takes the top one off to reveal another with a different message underneath.

While it was clever to utilize the masks in that way, something about it just didn’t work as well. The kid, while cute, wasn’t enough to sell the whole thing. 

Additionally, it wasted a bunch of masks that people could have used.

The message of the commercial is sweet, but even its title is long — another way the production is just a bit off.

The public now has the opportunity to vote on these commercials to choose one winner of the whole competition. Voting has already opened and will close on May 26. Each person can only vote once.

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