During Summer 2020, the Vermont Department of Health, Vermont’s public health agency, needed help implementing a widespread campaign to promote mask wearing in the state to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Hark’s Strategy team, along with the Design and Digital Marketing teams, worked in tandem with the client to inspire mask wearing compliance. After conducting an in-depth Google survey, as well as multiple brainstorming sessions, two concepts were decided upon to help Vermonters embrace this new social norm: “#MasksOnVT” and “Masked Art History.”

“The team’s efforts helped inspire a statewide effort for Vermonters and visitors to mask up—and encourage others to do the same.”

In an effort to reach as many people as possible, we wanted to create campaign branding that showed mask wearing as an accessible norm, not as an unattainable lifestyle change. Customizable graphics and a toolkit of written content, which included some best practices, were made and shared with organizations across Vermont to cater the unified message to their stakeholders. Bright, eye-catching colors, along with inclusive photography, helped people see themselves in materials that were shared all over the state: from state parks to buses to offices and everywhere in between.

Going To The Source

To tackle this multifaceted project, we enlisted help from the source: real Vermonters. The campaign kicked off by sharing some compelling imagery and genuine “reasons why” on Google, Facebook, Snapchat and in a TV spot. These achieved over three million impressions, and the vanity URL /MasksOnVT, used on all promotional and toolkit materials, was accessed over 3k times, showing the popularity and resonance of this work on both paid and unpaid channels.

The “I wear a mask…” graphics were crafted to appeal to all Vermonters, including parents and guardians, high-risk individuals, grandparents, young adults, frontline workers and those who love our state. They made their way onto posters, social media and ads, which were viewed and shared widely, always with a #MasksOnVT reference for campaign recognition and visibility.

In order to make the toolkit as versatile as it could possibly be, we included social media, email and blog templates, imagery with spaces to customize messaging, and even Facebook profile picture frames, where supporters and partners could share that they had masked up to help keep the community healthy. These were enthusiastically shared and used during a pivotal point in the pandemic.

As much of a success as these initial efforts were, reaching teens, young adults and those who appreciate a lighter take on the benefits of masking required special attention: thus, the Masked Art History creative’s rollout. While the Digital Marketing department worked behind the scenes to identify famous works of art, the Design team seamlessly added surgical masks to the subjects of some of the world’s most famous works. It helped in “painting the idea of a brighter future” for Vermont, made possible by those masking up to save lives.