‘Utrecht zorg goed voor elkaar’. Where do all these Dick Bruna posters urging the people of Utrecht to look after each other come from? They’re appearing in more and more windows, giving support and encouragement to local residents. Exactly what a poster campaign is supposed to do.

The brain behind it is Marije Lieuwens, freelance culture marketeer, who came up with the idea after seeing a similar campaign in Italy. People were hanging rainbows in their windows, as a symbol of hope for better times.

You thought: Utrecht could use a pick-me-up too?
‘Biking through the empty streets, I got quite depressed by all the posters advertising events that had subsequently been cancelled. I tried to think of something comforting as an antidote to all the misery, something that would unite us. The first thing that sprang to mind was a picture by Dick Bruna: a figure wearing a Dom Tower crown, holding a red heart in their arms.’

Marije Lieuwens, together with her daughter

When did Bruna draw this picture?
‘In 1986, just before the Vakantiebeurs. The caption read Stad naar mijn hart (My kind of city). I asked the municipality and Bruna’s agent for permission to use it, and everyone was enthusiastic. All Bruna’s work is subject to strict copyright, so I felt honoured to be able to use the picture and add my own, appropriate caption: Utrecht zorg goed voor elkaar.’

You had 2,500 posters printed, but they were gone within a few days…
‘Word spread and posters started appearing in people’s windows in no time. Not only in houses, but in shops and around the UMC and Diakonessenhuis hospitals too. Distribution is a problem. It’s difficult to do it safely. I want to spread a good vibe, but not the virus, so I have to be careful about the distribution side. I’m working with the DUIC, a free newspaper that’s available in supermarkets. They’ve printed the poster on the front page, so that people can tear it out and hang it up.’

Why has this campaign been so successful?
‘The poster itself has wide public appeal because is timeless and Bruna’s pictures are a part of Utrecht’s DNA. It wouldn’t have worked in Amsterdam. It’s an example of city marketing before the concept existed.’

What do you want this poster to achieve?
‘I want it to give the people of Utrecht hope and a feeling of solidarity. We must get through this together and once it’s over, we’ll need the strength to continue where we left off. So remember to wave to your neighbours, be kind to people and look after each other!’