Sesame Street’s Famous Fuzzy Residents Star in Kid-Friendly PSAs About COVID-19

They deliver helpful messages to caregivers and young children

Illustration of Sesame Street characters making a heart with their hands
Elmo's famous healthy teeth PSA got a lyrical upgrade to reflect the urgent public health messaging needs imposed by COVID-19. Sesame Street

Instead of teaching young children how to brush their teeth with the help of snazzy beats and celebrity pals, Elmo’s popular “Brushy Brush” tune has gotten a lyrical update to reflect the new realities of the coronavirus pandemic.

Elmo dropped a COVID-19 remix of “Washy Wash” with some of Sesame Street’s other beloved Muppets in a series of animated music videos to teach young children how to wash their hands properly.

These timely content changes are all part of the Caring for Each Other initiative launched by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, in partnership with the Ad Council.

The campaign’s site includes animations on healthy habits, resources providing comfort during this difficult period, activities that caregivers can use to supplement homeschooling, child-friendly explanations to tough questions, self-care tips for grown-ups and more.

According to Dr. Jeanette Betancourt, svp of U.S. Social Impact for Sesame Workshop through the Caring for Each Other initiative, the organization is “committed to supporting families for the duration of this crisis and beyond—equipping them with the tools they need to get through this together and look to the future with hope and optimism.”

Elmo washing his hands
Sesame Street

The animated coronavirus-centric multilingual spots, available in 19 languages, include videos that feature Sesame Street’s fuzzy residents learning how to sneeze properly and how caring for yourself means caring for each other. The PSAs will air in the U.S. and globally through partners like HBO, PBS Kids and local PBS stations, Univision, the Ad Council, YouTube, Sesame Street in Communities and other international broadcast partners.

Sesame Street isn’t the only brand that has gotten into the PSA spirit since the emergence of COVID-19, subsequent social distancing restrictions and heightened hygiene preoccupations. Per the Ad Council, a bevy of companies have rallied behind their efforts, such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Group Nine Media, Google, Pluto TV, Pinterest, TikTok, WarnerMedia and YouTube.

Grover sneezing
Sesame Street

Recently, NBCUniversal used homemade videos from some of its programs’ most famous stars, including Jane Lynch, Ted Danson and Al Roker, to create more than a dozen new coronavirus pandemic PSAs for its 30-year-old “The More You Know” campaign. NBCUniversal’s spots are in both English and Spanish.

Last week, ViacomCBS unveiled #AloneTogether, a multimedia PSA campaign in partnership with the Ad Council. For now, the campaign has released mobile ads that encourage people to self-isolate and stick to recommended social distancing measures. #AloneTogether is fronted by the company’s portfolio of entertainment and youth brands, including MTV, Comedy Central, CMT and VH1.

The Ad Council’s mission to slow the spread of COVID-19 via urgent public health messaging is being supported by the White House, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“As families around the world adjust to their new realities, parents and caregivers are looking for help in creating new routines, staying healthy and fostering learning at home,” said Dr. Rosemarie Truglio, svp of curriculum and content at Sesame Workshop.

The Caring for Each Other’s website will be updated regularly as the unprecedented situation evolves in order to provide comfort and creative routines for children and caregivers.

Cookie monster being told about handwashing
Sesame Street

Additionally, families will now be able to watch Sesame Street episodes on HBO, PBS stations and the PBS Kids 24/7 channel, with an expanded offering of free on-demand episodes of Sesame Street on PBS Kids’ digital platforms. There are also 110 free Sesame Street ebooks offered on all major ebook platforms.

@monicroqueta Mónica is a breaking news reporter at Adweek.