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Some citizens of the city of Mexicali in Mexico were circumspect after receiving an envelope showing a circle, a triangle and a square — especially those who did not have the opportunity to watch the Squid Game series on Netflix. In the on-screen series, the same symbols are used on professional business cards – inviting participants to a life or death game.

By calling the number on these cards, heavily indebted people chosen by the game’s creator can enter the Squid Game and either die playing or win the 45.6 billion won prize (£28million prize).

Authorities of the State Public Services Commission of Mexicali (CESPM), in charge of water and electricity billing, thought printing the symbols on envelopes would be the right solution to make sure their debtors pay attention to their late notice letter.

Based on the criticism on social media for the way of notifying debtors, the general director of the administration, Armando Samaniego, reported that the envelopes were sent to “draw the attention of users and ask them to catch up on their payments.”

He told La Voz de la Frontera that the idea arose with the intention of removing monotony that is associated with government agencies as well as adding a “touch of humour”.

Mexicali authorities said they were “using popular dramas to collect unpaid bills in a friendly way.”

The cost to print about 1,000 envelopes with circles, triangles, and squares was just 100 pesos, or about £3.60.

John Street, a professor of politics at the University of East Anglia who analysed this pop culture-inspired public operation, labelled the measure as “rather extreme.”

Mr Street told The i: “I think it’s really interesting to hear that Squid Game is being used this way.

“It seems a rather extreme – not to say perverse – way to incentivise good behaviour.”

“People’s behaviour can be changed by popular culture.

“If not to sacrifice their fellow human beings for the riches on offer in Squid Game!” he joked.

In India, the show inspired another campaign from a public service.

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A post shared by Mumbai Police (@mumbaipolice)

The Mumbai police made a reference to the series in a video they edited and posted on Instagram to promote safe driving.

“You are the ‘frontman’ or your ‘game’ on the road: you can save yourself from getting eliminated. Stop at red lights. #SafetyNotAGame #EliminateSpeedGames” read the caption.

The video, viewed more than 140.000 times since its publication on Friday, shows a scene from the series when players play “red light, green light” and risk dying if they don’t respect the immobility rule during the red light section.

At the end of the video, the Mumbai police added a car crash induced by a driver who did try to jump a red light.

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