Abbott gets surreal, creating family of melon-headed humanoids for concussion campaign

Abbott is twisting my melon. For its latest campaign, the healthcare company’s concussion awareness coalition has created a family of melon-headed humanoids to tell Americans “if you hit your head, get it checked.”

The Concussion Awareness Now coalition began pushing a similar message late last year and enlisted actress, comedian, writer and producer Rebel Wilson as the face of the campaign. Now, Abbott, which sells the rapid blood test i-STAT TBI for traumatic brain injury and concussion, and its collaborators have paired Wilson with a family of cartoon characters called the Melons.

As the name suggests, the Melons all have actual melons for heads. Most members of the six-person, three-generation family have watermelons for heads, although one person appears to sport a cantaloupe instead. And, while the people are human apart from their heads, the family cat is all melon, from tail to toes. The design is a setup for a play on the word melon, which as well as being a fruit is a slang term for a person’s head.

Abbott has created two videos for the campaign. One video shows two cartoon people with melons for heads playing doubles in a tennislike racket sport. Both players go for the ball and bang their heads. The mustachioed melon suggests stopping but is shot down by his female partner, who says, this “pickleball champ stops for no one.” As she delivers the line, a crash zoom causes her melon head to fill the screen and the text “The Never Quitter” flashes up.

In the next scene, the female melon almost falls over trying to serve the ball. We then see the pickleball players returning home. The male character says “we got our melons checked,” adding that “she had a concussion.” In the signoff, the melons say “don't mess with your melon, if you hit it get it checked” as the Concussion Awareness Now logo and website address flash up on the screen.

The second video shows a melon-headed child playing with a remote controlled car. An adult, assumedly his dad, slips on the car and bangs his head. The dad brushes off the concern of his wife, telling her that “I can't tell a doctor I slipped on a toy—I’m a triathlete!” as the phrase “The Tough Guy” appears on the screen. 

As the man tries to stand up, he wobbles and almost falls over. We next see the two adult melons on the sofa, delivering the lines “I had a concussion,” “most happen doing ordinary things,” and “sometimes the tough thing to do is to get help to prevent serious damage.” The ad closes with the same ending as the other video. Other videos feature a Melon character texting and walking and tripping over the family pet during a virtual reality game.

The goal is to communicate that concussions happen to people during regular, everyday activities, and that when people experience a hit or bump to the head or a full-body jolt, they need to get it checked. The only mention of Abbott is a logo naming it as a founder of Concussion Awareness Now on the final frames of the videos, but the company stands to benefit if more people get checked and are tested with i-STAT TBI.