India Railways References Hit Netflix Show 'Squid Games' to Encourage Patrons to Follow COVID Safety Protocol

Gillian Sisley

Nothing encourages participation in healthcare safety quite like viral memes.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or at least aren’t active on social media, you’ve likely heard about the hit Netflix Korean show, 'Squid Games’. It has quickly become the most successful show in Netflix history, and has been viewed over 142 million “member households" in the first 4 weeks of the show's premiere.

To put those crazy numbers into perspective, in second place was the hit TV show Bridgerton, at 82 million “member household” views, and Squid games has already doubled that second-place show.

If you haven’t heard of this TV show, the general premise is that hundreds of citizens participate in children’s games for the chance to win what is equivalent to millions of US dollars. 

If they lose a game, the consequences are deadly.

Pop culture is thriving with ‘Squid Games' references.

These references are everywhere from social media, to television, to comedy shows, and basically, everywhere you look. People love making memes or jokes referencing this insanely popular show.

And with that ball in motion, Indian Railways has decided to take this pop culture phenomenon and use it for the greater good.

In a recent Twitter post, the ministry of railways in India published a graphic referencing Squid Games, and used it to encourage patrons to follow healthy COVID-19 safety protocol.

Among the safety guidelines were:

  • Get yourself vaccinated
  • Always wear a mask in public places
  • Frequently used sanitizer

Is this a smart PR move on Indian Railway’s part?

As a trained public relations practitioner, I have to say I think this marketing move is absolutely brilliant.

There’s nothing that grabs the world’s attention more than pop culture references, good or not. Whether you hate it, whether you love it, the truth of the matter is that people pay attention to things that are popular and trendy.

I consider it to be an exceptionally intelligent move to combine a pop culture reference with humor to address an issue requesting public participation.

Keep in mind, regardless of how people feel about COVID-19, being very serious about the threats of this virus doesn’t sway everyone. This tactic has already been done, and in a lot of places, it hasn’t worked. So if what you’ve done before isn’t working, try something new. 

The smart thing about this campaign is that it’s surprising, fresh, and gives people a light-hearted opportunity to receive really important information. I wouldn’t be surprised if this campaign absolutely blew up. It’s already being shared across social media, and really could make a cultural impact to help reduce the number of cases.

What do you think? Do you like this campaign idea? Do you hate it? Would you go about it differently? Let me know your thoughts below.

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