In a time of uncertainty due to a global pandemic, Jen Neumann wanted to find a way to bring some positivity to the Cedar Rapids community. She also wasn’t sure what impact COVID-19 would have on her business de Novo, a marketing agency in Cedar Rapids, and wanted a project for her team.
An idea came to Neumann when she and her family were flying back to Iowa after a not-so-typical spring break. (The family had flown to Puerto Rico only to land and find out the island was shut down.)
“It all kind of got dreamed up on a plane ride back to Iowa,” said Neumann, who is the CEO and owner of de Novo. Neumann is also a member of the Cedar Rapids Community School District’s Board of Education.
“Coming back to Iowa [and] thinking about what does our world look like now and starting to see some of the anger and anxiety starting to take shape on social media … I just felt like a message of positivity needed to happen. At that point in time, I really also didn’t know what I would be coming back to from a business perspective. Would we have any business? And what would it take to keep my team together and can we create a project that we can work on together that would be fun and uplifting?”
A couple of months after that came Spread Love Not Viruses, de Novo’s campaign aimed at sharing positive messages and promoting a shared goal of Cedar Rapids businesses overcoming and recovering from COVID-19.
As part of the campaign, T-shirts are being sold with the Spread Love Not Viruses logo. All of the proceeds go to the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Disaster Response Fund.
Neumann said just over $500 has been raised, and she hopes that sum is at least doubled by July 15, which is the last day to order apparel, a mug or tote bag with the logo. (Items can be purchased online.)
Various restaurants have also been handing out Spread Love Not Viruses stickers with their orders, and the logo has also been spray-painted on sidewalks in various parts of the city. If any businesses want to hand out stickers or have a stencil in front of their building, Neumann said it’s not too late to reach out. The best way is to message the Spread Love Not Viruses page on Facebook.
“We’re putting a little bit more effort into it for the next month and then we’ll probably let that campaign lapse just because there are some really big local initiatives down in Iowa City and in the Cedar Rapids area that are taking foot right now,” Neumann said. “But I still think it’s just a great message of positivity just reminding ourselves to be careful, first of all, and then just take a second and be positive.”