Civic News
COVID-19 / Delaware / Municipal government

The story behind New Castle County’s masked vehicles

The county is partnering with Carvertise for a public health messaging project.

Matt Meyer and Mac Macleod putting a #TeamMask" mask on Meyer's vehicle. (Gif by Holly Quinn)
Correction: Brian Selander's former title and the spelling of Mac Macleod's name have been updated. (8/5/20, 11:02 p.m.)
It started with a joke.

After seeing that people were protesting against wearing masks in Dover, Brian Selander, former chief strategy officer for Jack Markell and COO of ownable, sent a text message to friend and CEO of Carvertise, Mac Macleod.

“So … when do you put some masks on some Carvertise cars?”

“When I first got the message, I thought it was hilarious,” said Macleod at a Wednesday morning press conference in the parking lot of Frawley Stadium, cars slowly streaming by for the day’s drive-through COVID-19 testing behind him. “I thought it was an outlandish idea. The problem with being a crazy entrepreneur is sometimes you actually run with these crazy ideas. Because they can be brilliant. We fell in love with it.”

It took about four weeks for the Carvertise team, whose customary advertising wraps don’t cover the radiator grille, to nail down the mask design. They had to find a material that was both very durable and breathable enough to allow air through to cool the engine, and a design that would stay in place, even at highway speeds.

As the project was coming together, Macleod ran into Tamarra Morris, New Castle County’s director of economic development, down on the Riverfront. He mentioned the vehicle mask project. She was intrigued, and suggested a meeting with the county’s executive team, which was looking for creative ways to deliver public health messaging for COVID-19.

“They wanted to be the first county government in the U.S. to leverage their own fleets into armadas of messaging vehicles to help curb the spread of COVID-19,” said Macleod. “They wanted to use the mileage organically being put on by [county] vehicles.”

NCCo Exectutive Matt Meyer speaks at the #TeamMask press conference

NCCo Executive Matt Meyer speaks at the Aug. 5 #TeamMask press conference. (Photo by Holly Quinn)

High-visibility county vehicles such as public works and paramedics vehicles will wear the mask, as well as a wrap with the hashtag #TeamMask. The vehicles can be seen at testing sites, parks and recreation sites and construction sites, and on the road. Those who see one in the wild are encouraged to take a photo of it and upload it to social media with the hashtag.

“We want to do everything we can, use every creative tool we can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus,” said New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer. “Right behind me, right now, there is free and painless COVID-19 testing going on. What we’re about today is doing things ahead of time to prevent those lines from getting too long, to prevent the numbers coming from that testing from getting too high, so that hopefully in time our schools and our workplaces can open safely, and we can go back to some semblance of normalcy.”

Meyer and Macleod then ceremoniously put a mask on Meyer’s own vehicle to launch the campaign.

Companies: Carvertise
Series: Coronavirus

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