New campus COVID-19 campaign reminds community to mask up, distance

A new social norms marketing campaign will encourage members of the campus community to look out for their fellow Berkeleyans. (UC Berkeley video)

Wearing masks, washing hands and staying physically distant from each other are still the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and UC Berkeley has just launched a new social norms marketing campaign to encourage students, faculty and staff coming to campus for work, research or school to do just those things.

The campaign, conceived this summer and organized by Berkeley’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs, offers a modular approach, providing units and divisions with an array of tools they can use to tailor the ads to their audiences.

And what’s the COVID-19 message the campus is conveying?

“Bears care,” said Diana Harvey, associate vice chancellor for communications and public affairs.

After conducting discussion groups with students, staff and faculty and interviewing public health messaging experts and colleagues from peer universities, Harvey and her team settled on the approach of encouraging individuals to practice good behavior — not for themselves, but for their community.

“This theme really gets to the heart of who we are as a community at Berkeley,” Harvey said. “We care about the most vulnerable among us and about causes greater than ourselves.”

an ad campaign poster featuring a photo of two people in masks and aprons. The text reads "I wear a mask to show my appreciation for essential workers"

The ad campaign is designed to encourage students, staff and faculty to consider the campus community. (UC Berkeley graphic by Hulda Nelson)

Focusing on those around us — parents, professors, colleagues with a vulnerable child or those living with relatives who are older adults — is what motivates the Berkeley community to do the right thing, she said.

Ads include quotes from campus members like: “I wear a mask to show my appreciation for essential workers.” Or, “I wash my hands because it is my duty to protect others.”

The campaign will run “until we can safely come together again and return to more ‘normal’ campus operations,” Harvey said, and it features posters, a video and swag, such as branded hand sanitizer bottles and masks. All of the designs, photos and ad copy will be available for campus units, such as the Division of Student Affairs, and various schools, departments and colleges that will produce and distribute the ads.

“This approach lets the units craft the message to meet their audience,” Harvey said. “An undergraduate student living in an off-campus apartment needs to be shown something slightly different than a staffer working in a lab.”

an ad campaign poster showing a student taking a COVID-19 test. The text reads, "I get tested for myself and my social bubble."

The campaign is modular so various campus units can produce tailored advertisements. (UC Berkeley graphic by Hulda Nelson)

With COVID-19 cases rising across the country, students pondering a return to their hometowns for Thanksgiving and some Berkeley classes opening up for outdoor instruction, Harvey said it is more important than ever for the campus community to stay diligent.

“We all have to do what we’re supposed to do for this all to work and in order to get back to doing what we love,” Harvey said. “That’s what Berkeleyans do, look out for each other.”