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The COVID Ref Campaign: a Video Shoot During Corona

A behind the scenes look at shooting a commercial during the pandemic. 

In October, St. Louis County, the largest county in Minnesota, came to us looking for a PSA campaign. Its team needed to provide the community with the latest recommendations for COVID-19 prevention. They had a long list of ticket items that needed to be addressed, including reaching college students. With COVID cases rising to new highs across the state and county, the PSA had to be informative and keep people’s attention. Plus, every part of the project needed to adhere to COVID-19 precautions. Although it was a tall order, we were more than up for the task.

Say hello to the COVID Ref campaign.



After hours of brainstorming possible directions for this campaign over Zoom, a winning idea rose to the top: The COVID Ref. The concept was simple. Due to the pandemic, a football ref has to start reffing the community and reminding them of COVID-19 best practices. The tone we were aiming for was light, fun, and informative.

After getting the marketing and communications team at St. Louis County on board, we started production. Within a week, we cast, set locations, and teamed up with video production crew Danger Bird Productions.

We do not recommend this tight of a timeline, especially during a pandemic. We had to follow extra rules and regulations while shooting in public locations. Both the UMD Library and Whole Foods Co-op were amazing to work with and let us use their locations after hours to film these PSAs. Thank you to Matt and Hillary for getting up at the crack of dawn and staying late to make this project happen! You’re amazing.

Playing by the Rules
Throughout the shoots, the filming crew wore masks and kept a 6-foot distance from actors during filming. We made sure hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes were always on hand. Car interiors, library tables, and kitchen tables were disinfected after the final shot.

For a scene about the importance of wearing a mask, we needed the actor to walk through a grocery store without a mask. To stay compliant with store rules and keep everyone safe, we shot after store hours and made sure our actor had a negative COVID test. Everything went great!


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While there were a few more hurdles to jump due to COVID, the video and photo shoots went perfectly. Our amazing cast of actors did their jobs splendidly. We partnered with an amazing video crew and our client encouraged our creativity every step of the way. All in all, it’s one of our favorite shoots to date!

Here’s the final product. See the whole project at