Mucinex enlivens coronavirus PSA content with Instagram superhero art

Peter Adams


  • Cold and flu brand Mucinex launched an Instagram content series that uses superhero art to encourage consumers to continue “boring” behaviors even as stay-at-home orders start to lift in several U.S. states, according to details shared with Mobile Marketer.
  • Working with creative agency partners McCann and McCann Health New York, the brand tapped award-winning artist Noma Bar to illustrate images that apply double entendre and negative space to show how staying home helps keep real frontline heroes, including healthcare workers, grocery store employees, mail carriers and more, safe and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Bar will share art for the series throughout May and designed a collection of Instagram stickers that roll out to users this week. Mucinex selected a curated group of social influencers to promote the campaign via Instagram Stories and is running a #boringhero hashtag to raise online awareness for the initiative.


Mucinex looks to differentiate its brand during the coronavirus pandemic with a spotlight on clever, dynamic visual art that recognizes the steep risks posed to frontline workers amid a public health crisis. At the same time, its campaign tries to combat the unrest many consumers are feeling as shelter-in-place orders stretch on for months, enforcing how staying cooped up can be its own form of selflessness in preventing the novel coronavirus’ spread.

The effort marks a change-up for the cold and flu relief brand that typically centers its marketing on an animated Mr. Mucus mascot whose ads employ a humorous tone. Mucinex is now adopting a more serious, science-minded approach in the PSA style that still taps into the current superhero pop culture craze driven by the likes of Disney’s Marvel Studios.

“Staying in isn’t exciting, but it saves lives,” reads one of Bar’s illustrations, which shows a superhero in profile whose mask and eyes double as a lounging man. Other mundane activities, such as vacuuming or making a sandwich, are depicted as similarly heroic across the content series.

Noma Bar’s art for Mucinex uses double entendre and negative space to send a message.
Courtesy of Mucinex

The Instagram push serves as a form of cause-driven marketing, with Mucinex trying to help prevent a fresh spike in coronavirus cases that could emerge as stay-at-home orders are lifted or relaxed in states like Georgia, Alabama and Texas. Public health experts fear a potential second wave of cases could arrive soon, and recently warned that the U.S. is rolling back safeguards too early. With the weather warming up as well, Mucinex is trying to clamp down on peoples’ natural urge to go outside and resume business as usual.

It’s the latest instance of a marketer stepping up to fill a messaging gap where public institutions have failed to. The demand for such purpose-minded messaging from the corporate sector is only growing, as more than half of surveyed global consumers believe brands are responding more quickly and effectively to the coronavirus pandemic than governments, according to an Edelman study on trust.

However, consumers are also becoming increasingly wary of brands’ coronavirus ads, many of which employ the same “uncertain times” messages, as reported in The Wall Street Journal. Young consumers, particularly in the Gen Z cohort, are more receptive to light-hearted or exciting content during the pandemic, a recent Magid study found. It’s an age demographic Mucinex is likely targeting with the fresh focus on Instagram, influencers and superheroes.


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