‘You Can Help Me — Wear A Mask’ PSA Campaign Debuts

Campaign Features Real People Discussing How Face Masks Make Everyone Safer

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Dec. 02, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Two enterprising Chapel Hill, North Carolina, retirees have teamed up with the Rivers Agency, a local marketing firm, to launch an ambitious public service campaign encouraging the wearing of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Themed “You Can Help Me — Wear A Mask,” the new PSA campaign features a variety of real people from the local community talking about the value of mask wearing in preventing the spread of the coronavirus and in restoring a sense of normalcy to daily life. Participants include high school and college students, health care workers, parents with special needs children, a firefighter, teacher and business owner. In a series of brief personal vignettes, each individual explains the key role that face masks play in protecting the health and safety of family, neighbors and the community at large — and how they also can help everyone get back to daily activities, such as going to work and attending school.

The campaign features residents from North Carolina, but the messaging was created to work for other communities and regions throughout the country. Available resources include free 30- and 60-second radio and video spots, social media sharing tools (#wearamask), a website dedicated to the campaign and other relevant content.

“In this politically divided time, there is a pressing need for a new approach to the public health challenge we face in getting everyone to wear a mask and reduce the spread of this terrible disease,” said Charlie Lehmann, 80, a former partner in the New York-based Drossman Lehmann Marino advertising agency now living in the Carolina Meadows retirement community in Chapel Hill. “Wearing a mask is the single most effective thing we can all do until vaccines are readily available, but too many Americans aren’t putting one on when they go out in public. That increases everyone’s risk and also makes it more difficult for routine life activities to resume.”

“This new PSA campaign hopes to change that behavior with a simple message,” Lehmann added. “We’re all in this together. By wearing a mask, we can protect our neighbors and help everyone get back to school, work and church more quickly — and safely.”

Lehmann conceived the idea for the PSA campaign after attending a local medical briefing on COVID-19 held in the spring at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At the time, the rate of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations was rising dramatically.

“It became apparent during that meeting that although the medical community was doing everything it could to help us, they couldn’t cure us if we became sick or prevent us from getting the disease,” said Lehmann. “Our only avenue was to ‘not get it’ by wearing a mask, social distancing and washing our hands.”

Unfortunately, wearing masks had already become a highly politicized and polarizing issue. “What should be common sense turned into a controversial topic for some,” Lehmann said. “It was a problem that I believed could be solved through an effective communications program. The ‘You Can Help Me’ campaign was created to tackle this challenge.”

To raise the funds needed to make his idea a reality, Lehmann turned to Don Stedman, 89, a longtime friend and fellow Carolina Meadows resident. The former dean of the UNC School of Education and current board chair of the New Voices Foundation, Stedman put on his fundraising hat and started making phone calls. Soon, he had raised $50,000 from a total of 19 state and local organizations and individuals. The donor list includes six leading independent living communities in the state, the UNC School of Medicine, UNC-TV, the Autism Society of North Carolina and The Arc of North Carolina.

“It’s a diverse cross section of groups that recognized right away the value this type of campaign could have in protecting our most vulnerable citizens as well as the community at large,” Stedman said. “They also saw the economic value, since masks are a key step in keeping everyone safe as we return to schools, workplaces, stores and other public settings.”

In addition to raising funds, Stedman also reached out to Elizabeth Benefield, director of the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation program at N.C. State University, for help with social media. That contact led to a group of the program’s Social Innovation Fellows signing on to manage the campaign’s five social media channels — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.

For help in creating the campaign, Lehmann tapped the Rivers Agency, an award-winning advertising, design and web development agency located in Chapel Hill and Raleigh, North Carolina, Lehmann and Sarah Owens, Rivers’ executive creative director, had worked together for many years on various projects for Carolina Meadows. After several brainstorming sessions, they came up with the idea of using ordinary Americans who need help to go back to a pre-pandemic world.

Lehmann wrote the majority of the vignettes. Each 30-second spot features two or three individuals talking about how wearing a face mask will help them get back to their lives.

“We wanted the messages in our PSAs to focus deeply on real people, using their real names and expressing the new reality that the lockdown has placed on their lives,” said Lauren Rivers, founder and CEO of Rivers Agency. “By sharing their unique perspectives, they give us a better understanding of how we’re all in this difficult situation together.”

To cast the PSAs, Rivers Agency tapped Catherine Schramm of iloveprod.com, who lined up “an amazing and skilled production crew as well as the great mix of real-life, real-world talent,” Rivers added. The closing voiceover of each segment was provided by Mitchell Lewis, managing producer and co-host for UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Now” show, who states: “We can do this. Wear a mask.”

The “You Can Help Me — Wear a Mask” PSA campaign is now rolling out on TV and social media. The first airing of the video spots was on Saturday, Nov. 28 as part of UNC-TV’s annual winter fundraising drive.

All campaign TV and radio commercials can be downloaded from this resources page –

Please help save lives and share this important message with the public.


Rivers Agency is an advertising and design agency in Chapel Hill and Raleigh, North Carolina that has provided national and local clients with big ideas and world-class service since our founding in 1993. We specialize in creating marketing campaigns, brands, websites, catalogs and print materials that bring meaning, results and loyalty to our clients’ brands.