Debt relief startup uses ‘Squid Game’ business card designs for terrifying ad campaign

We’ve written a lot about “Squid Game” lately. Almost everyone has, in fact. It’s the best show on Netflix right now, and was a pre-Halloween thriller phenomenon. It also created opportunities for some good merchandising efforts from Netflix.

If you haven’t watched it yet, the plot of the show is that a shadowy organization contacts people in financial difficulty, whether it’s because of gambling debt, loans, a personal crisis , etc After speaking with the potential target, they give them an encrypted card with a triangle, square, and circle on it, along with a phone number. From there, the game itself has deadly consequences, and that logo plays a big part in the show.

A debt relief startup has used the show’s theme for a self-promotion that seems a bit on the nose. People in New York and Miami might have found one of 10,000 business cards with the same three symbols as on the show, but with the message on the back saying “There’s a better way out of debt” and the Relief logo.

Relief is an app that, according to Adweek, “aims to tackle America’s massive credit card debt problem.” The company worked with Canadian advertising agency Wunder for the promotion, seeking to capitalize on the “Squid Game” hype at its height.

“We thought if we could hit with something quick enough and relevant to the situation, we could create a surprising brand interaction and start the debt conversation,” Wunder creative director Stephen Flynn told Adweek. “By using handcrafted stock and a similar look, we were able to create something instantly recognizable without actually saying ‘Squid Game’ anywhere on the map. But for those who know, they know. And for the four people who don’t don’t, we’ll just read a card with a very simple message about debt solution.

If the show remains as popular as it is now, Relief may expand the promotion to other cities. At this point, however, it might not feel quite so shocking. Plus, with how quickly trends move these days, “Squid Game” might be the talk of the day one day and then old news the next.

But, for now, it’s pretty much a masterclass in a minimalist product that delivers a big message. The logo is instantly recognizable and, thankfully, made up of three basic shapes rather than any trademark.

Luckily, Relief doesn’t seem to require any of its customers to play a lethal version of “Tug of War.”

Mika R. Pyle