Curtain will go up on respect this week

Courtesy Photo /
Respect the Distance poster

Courtesy Photo / Respect the Distance poster

Susie Skowronek

Posters sporting a human silhouette and the words “Have you seen me?” have popped up on bulletin boards across campus. The shadow can be seen on a banner in Kirkhof Center and at the Rec Center, but the marketers have kept tight lips as to the meaning of these advertisements.

The Grand Valley State University Respect the Distance campaign is based off a similar mystery marketing campaign for the Grand Rapids Gilda’s Club, an organization dedicated to the emotional and social support of people with cancer.

GVSU senior Cora Pellerito, program volunteer intern for Gilda’s Club, said both the Respect the Distance and the Gilda’s Club campaigns try to generate interest.

In the fall, Gilda’s Club posted smiley faces around Grand Rapids to spark people’s curiosity.

“It got news feed. All the news places were trying to figure out who this was, what it was, what was going on. They didn’t know if it was for something big, if was just someone randomly doing it. They didn’t know anything.”

Ultimately, Gilda’s Club revealed the smiley campaign was meant to draw interest to Laugh Fest, a comedy festival fundraiser that runs March 10-20 and features such talents as Betty White and Bill Cosby. Events will take place at various venues in Grand Rapids, and tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

Like the Gilda’s Club smiley face campaign, GVSU’s Health and Wellness marketers aim to draw people’s attention and “create a buzz” about what the Respect the Distance human silhouette might promote.

“We’re trying to get people interested before the purpose is revealed,” said Michelle Carpenter, Health and Wellness marketing intern.

A Facebook page, Respect the Distance, has drawn a following of less than 100 fans, but the marketing team behind the movement hopes the campaign will grow.

The page features pictures of pictures of people holding masks with question marks to censor their faces from the photos. A person in a Mr. GVSU pageant sash masks his face from a picture, and a crowd of people dressed in Alpha Omicron Pi t-shirts all hold the campaign’s question mark to block their faces.

The purpose of the Respect the Distance campaign will be revealed Monday. Visit the Respect the Distance Facebook page to learn more.

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