An open letter to fashion brands, the Ad Council and its supporters.
Health professionals are calling on us for a mask upgrade and we all must do our part, once again. This means every single company making cloth masks — including the “artists” taking $200 for making them out of Gucci clothing — has a moral obligation to stop making and selling them immediately.
The industry that helped foster the cloth-mask culture shift has an equal responsibility to do the right thing and help turn it up. It’s 2022, and people trust companies more than government or media, so it’s up to private industry to right the ship.
We have a perception problem of our own making. Masks are not fashion statements. They shouldn’t say anything about your politics. They are not the alpha and omega of your civic duty. And you should not wear two of them if you only need one, because making and using twice as much of anything has a negative impact on the environment.
Politicians putting government seals on them sends the worst message imaginable.
Masks have one purpose and one purpose only: to prevent pathogens from entering and exiting your body. Full stop.
We can do this, again. The media and creative brain trust we deployed to get cloth masks on in the first place was massive. The nonprofit and nonpartisan Ad Council, which spearheaded “Mask Up America” and “Mask Up Until You’re Vaccinated” culture shifts, is in a great position to lead Mask Upgrade America.
It might be a tough ask from brands we celebrated back in 2020 for their speed in the production of cloth masks to now cease and desist.
In addition to immediately pulling these masks from “shelves,” we can take a cue from the Ad Council’s dated but active assignment brief calling to “normalize use through stories or real people/influencers.”
Influencers and real people must be activated once again for the upgrade initiative.
For example, fashion CEO “influencer” Royal Jelly Harlem CEO Maya Gorgoni can set an example by shooting a note to “real people” Meghan Markle. People listen to Maya and Meghan and if they trade their cloth for much-needed medical devices, it’s a measurable win.
Brands that support the Ad Council (like Google, Facebook, Johnson and Johnson and PepsiCo) should also support the removal of all cloth-mask ad spots and creative immediately.
Ads and messaging using Sesame Street characters like Elmo and Oscar to coerce our children into wearing fashion cloth masks should be removed from the site and anywhere they might still be running.