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The original item was published from 7/15/2020 2:04:02 PM to 9/1/2020 12:00:04 AM.

News Flash

City of Durham News

Posted on: July 15, 2020

[ARCHIVED] “Back on the Bull” Campaign to Help Durham, NC Stay Open Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Let's Get Back on the Bull

DURHAM, N.C. – The Durham Recovery and Renewal Task Force (RRTF) today announced a new campaign designed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 using public health and behavioral science best practices. Created by The Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University (CAH) and McKinney, a Durham-based national creative and media agency, “Back on the Bull” offers a voluntary self-certification tool for businesses operating during the pandemic, while delivering a rallying cry for the community to come together in support.

“There are not many other places across the country that have such expertise to call on when figuring out the safest way to help the local economy recover,” said City of Durham Mayor Steve Schewel. “It was essential for the campaign to be based on science, but for it to also come together in such a way that reflects the strength and spirit of our community – the Bull City – is just awesome.”

The RRTF, charged with advising Mayor Schewel and Durham County Commissioner Chair Wendy Jacobs as they revise local emergency declarations, recruited CAH to incorporate a next-level approach to reopening the community by applying behavioral research. “Back on the Bull” offers an online planning tool constructed by CAH with guidelines for numerous industries (restaurants, retail, places of worship, office operations, etc.). The tool’s evidence-based guidelines were developed with and approved by Durham County Department of Public Health. The campaign also makes it easier for business owners and stakeholder groups to prominently display the specific safety measures adopted, an action that is encouraged in the latest local ordinance.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to our focus the importance of social science,” said Dan Ariely, Director of CAH. “When we deal with this pandemic – fear, anxiety, habits, rituals, rules – all play an important role. At CAH, we feel privileged to work alongside the City and County to help our community take the right steps to protect each other and thrive.”

The goal behind the creative design was to rally Durhamites together under one shared cause. The bull was chosen to serve at the forefront of this campaign as a unifying figure. As a visual representation of the City of Durham, the bull signifies that all the people of the city are working towards the same cause as one united team. The language that serves as a basis for the campaign – let’s get back on the bull – was developed as a rallying cry for Durhamites to dust themselves off and do what they must to help protect the place that they’re proud to call home.

“Before we show residents and business owners what we are asking them to do, we need to motivate them to want to take action,” said McKinney Chief Strategy Officer Walt Barron. “We saw an opportunity to tap into our shared pride in Durham, because if you are a Durhamite, you love Durham and will do your part to fight for this city.”

The campaign website,, now serves as a one-stop shop for Durham residents, visitors, stakeholders and business owners. Those interested can learn more about Durham’s current Safer-at-Home Order, COVID-19 data reports, actionable steps to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, and what one can expect when venturing into public. Residents can also find which Durham businesses have implemented industry-specific guidelines for added transparency using a searchable map. Additional branding elements and activations, in English and Spanish, will be rolled out to reinforce messaging throughout the year. Durham-based tilde Language Justice Cooperative is translating each piece, using “De Vuelta al Ruedo” as the Spanish adaptation for “Back on the Bull.”

“The comprehensiveness of “Back on the Bull” has really made it so much more than a marketing campaign, with the website acting as a centralized, county-wide resource,” said Chair Jacobs. “It makes the guidelines more approachable and straightforward, aiming for more consistent and widespread adoption. This collaboration between the City, County, tilde, CAH and McKinney has been invaluable.”

It is well documented how social distancing efforts have unintentionally paralyzed local economies across the country. One of the first steps taken by the task force was to organize 23 stakeholder groups to reflect the establishments and industries across Durham. The various stakeholder groups represent everything from fitness centers, restaurants, and relators, to immigrants and refugees, public transportation, and long-term care living facilities. After holding numerous listening sessions, the online planning tools were designed with the stakeholder groups’ feedback and concerns in mind.

“We couldn’t be more proud of the work of this task force and the invaluable contributions by The Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University (CAH), McKinney, and tilde Language Justice Cooperative, to create a campaign that captures the spirit of our city,” said Katie Galbraith, President of Duke Regional Hospital, task force Co-Chair, and Board Chair of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce. “We have every confidence that our collective business community will rally around this effort to ensure a full and sustained recovery for all of Durham.”

Creative assets available for media use can be found here.

For details about Durham’s current Safer-at-Home Order, please visit this website.

Specific questions about the work of the Durham’s Recovery and Renewal Task Force can be emailed to [email protected].

About the Durham Recovery & Renewal Task Force

The Durham Recovery & Renewal Task Force is charged with advising Mayor Steve Schewel and Commissioner Wendy Jacobs as they revise emergency declarations related to COVID-19. The 15 appointed members are comprised of public health experts, business leaders, community and faith leaders, and a representative from the County’s Emergency Operations Center. Members are to advise the community on how to reopen safely, gradually and successfully. The task force holds public meetings weekly that can be viewed on the City of Durham’s YouTube page.

About the Center for Advanced Hindsight

The Center for Advanced Hindsight is Dan Ariely’s applied behavioral science lab at Duke University that specializes in health and financial decision-making. Researchers at the Center for Advanced Hindsight study, design, test and implement behavioral interventions that help people be happier, healthier and wealthier. Bridging the gap between research and real-world applications, the Center partners with a wide variety of organizations, from tech companies to nonprofits. To learn more, visit:

About McKinney

McKinney is a full-service creative and media agency, with work that has been recognized by Cannes Lions, Effies, The One Show, D&AD, ANDY, CLIO and The Webby Awards. Some of McKinney’s clients include P&G, Little Caesars, ESPN, Sherwin-Williams, Jared, ClearChoice Dental, Next Gen Personal Finance, Samsung, Choice Hotels International, WeTransfer, Amazon Studios and Crocs. The agency also does pro bono work for Urban Ministries of Durham and the Ad Council/Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s No One Gets a Diploma Alone campaign. McKinney is headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, with offices in Los Angeles and New York. Visit to learn more and follow McKinney on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

For more information about the “Back on the Bull,” contact should email Margaret Pentrack at [email protected] or (412) 337-2997.

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