In January 2017, Professor Elizabeth Hobart (Zab) challenged her York University students to design campaign visuals for Community Resilience to Extreme Weather (CREW). Deliverables were married to the course requirements. Excited about working on a socially meaningful project, students were free to select their target audience for their extreme weather emergency preparedness campaigns.
The results are in — and they are terrific. All Canadian levels of government deliver a universal preparedness message that asks Canadians to be ready to look after themselves for at least 72 hours in the case of emergency: make an emergency plan, an emergency kit, and a Go Bag. But the message isn’t getting through: the great majority of Canadians are unprepared for extreme events. Zab’s students have shown how emergency preparedness messaging can be targeted to capture the interest of a diversity of audiences. CREW would like public safety officials to give this approach a try!
The designs are below. If you’d like to know more about the concepts, or If you have ideas about reaching your own target audience, we’d love to hear from you. If you’re interested in contacting one of the student designers we’d be very happy to connect you.
Students were concerned with the visual appearance of the campaign. Additional campaign elements include websites, Instagram, and other social media, along with newspaper banner & display advertisements and postcards. Students were required to deliver in two languages. None of them are copywriters!
1) Anna Lin knows that the Chinese populations of Scarborough (City of Toronto) and the City of Markham are divided by Steeles Avenue. She also knows that when the power goes out in Markham it can still be on in Scarborough, and vice versa. Anna wants Chinese households in these jurisdictions to buddy-up. The co benefits of community building would be many. But ] in the case of a real emergency event, one household could become a safe haven for its ‘across-the-road’ neighbour.
2) Charlotte Lucas wants to build community right where she lives: on campus at York University. Her YUnited message raises awareness about extreme weather and resilience, but perhaps more importantly shows students how they are all part of the York U community and teaches them how to have each other’s backs when an emergency event happens.
3) Clover Chung’s campaign urges her audience to expect the unexpected. She makes emergency preparation look easy and maybe even fun. Her target audiences are Chinese speaking—both seniors and young families. Clover’s attention grabbing messaging delivered mostly in print as brochures and posters are designed to reach people who spend less time on social media.
4) Firas Kauchali wants millennials to be as prepared for extreme weather emergencies as they would for any other daily hazard — such as sleeping in on a workday! His campaign normalizes the possession of an emergency plan and kit. His series of posters make emergency preparedness fun — while also showing that unpreparedness has real-life consequences.
5) Kristen Yeung’s Parents Prepared campaign makes packing an emergency kit as routine as checking and updating the contents of your emergency preparedness kit and plan. Kristen knows that all parents want to do the best for their children. Being ready for an emergency and knowing that they’ve already planned how to keep their families safe and secure when an extreme weather event happens, is something all parents will want to do.
6) Patrick Descartin is taking the preparedness message to high schools in his hometown of Milton, Ontario. Aimed at students his campaign asks his social media savvy audience to think about how well prepared their families are for extreme weather events. Patrick uses a provocative theme, Has it Hit? to get student attention. Once they’ve connected to his SafeHouse branding with their online devices he shows them how to have extreme weather discussions that promote preparedness both in school and at home.
7) Saba Sobhani has created a provocative campaign that grabs everyone's attention. But his preparedness message is aimed at millennials who are more familiar with condoms than emergency kits. Saba’s playful campaign wants to make preparedness planning for an unexpected and disruptive event as natural as preventing one.
8) Sean Lautenschläger takes a subversive approach to extreme weather preparedness. His target audience is kids who love dinosaurs. Once he’s got their attention he’s pretty sure they’ll take his message home to the adults in the family. Sean’s materials are designed to appeal to teachers who need to keep children busy during a rainy recess. His campaign normalizes the possession of a plan and a kit: parents who aren’t up to date are the real dinosaurs!
9) Vivian Diep has thought about young people who are too often overlooked and misunderstood. Homeless youth make up one of Toronto’s most vulnerable populations. But they also have a lived experience in coping with extreme weather that can teach the rest of us some important lessons. Because most homeless youth stay connected through social media, Vivian’s made phone texting the basis of her campaign.