As signs became more clear that the coronavirus pandemic would continue this fall, the Trustees of Boston University knew they had to find a way to keep students on campus, healthy, and happy. Their answer? The College of Communication’s ADLab and PRLab students.
With the help of COM’s most creative mass communication minds, the BU-sponsored and student-managed campaign F*ck It Won’t Cut It spread across Commonwealth Avenue. School administrators believed that, rather than having to police students themselves, the student body would much prefer– and even be interested in– hearing what their peers have to say about COVID-19. Based on BU’s initial success with keeping infection rates under control, many would say the campaign is working.
Hailey McKee (COM’21), public relations manager of F*ck It Won’t Cut It, knows how easy for students it can be to say “F- it” during any other year. Whether Gen Z-ers, the campaign’s target audience, are justifying pulling an all nighter or deciding not to study for a test, “f- it” is a common phrase used to push something off.
After hours of research through surveys and focus groups, the campaign’s creators realized that many BU students were afraid of returning because of the effects of carelessness. McKee said that “being able to play into [the students’ own language and mindset] and tying it into the campaign… has worked really well so far.”
While the ADLab and PRLab students were working tirelessly to bring F*ck It Won’t Cut It to life, the Trustees of Boston University sponsored the campaign’s copyright. This sponsorship brought greater awareness to the campaign in the greater Boston area and nationwide.
The media initially seemed surprised that a world-renowned, private research university trademarked such provocative language. Boston Magazine described F*ck It Won’t Cut It as “surprisingly vulgar” and by Boston.com as having a slogan that “did not mince words.” But, other higher education institutions quickly caught on and realized the value of using and trademarking a phrase that resonates with students.
Within the creative team, McKee soon realized she had to prove that the campaign was much more than its colorful language. “Someone with 2 million followers retweeted [the copyright news]…, so you can imagine the magnitude this [campaign] picked up,” said McKee. “But once we finally got to add context and show who we are, people came to really understand who we are as students and what we stand for– keeping our peers safe.”
With the semester going full speed ahead, the F*ck It Won’t Cut It campaign has continued to rely on their creative team and brand ambassadors to keep their mission and spirit alive. From organizing swag handouts and podcasts to posting eye-catching advertisements around BU, F*ck It Won’t Cut It is not afraid to keep promoting their message.
McKee and the creative team are now focusing on “having unique discussions about topics that people might be a little bit too scared, or they might feel uncomfortable or nervous to talk about.” By doing so, she hopes this semester will retain some sense of normalcy that makes BU feel like home for all students.
“We want to be smart. We want to be safe. And we all want to be together,” said McKee. “So hopefully, we can all embrace the safe lifestyle changes that make [staying on campus] a reality.”
Evan Brown, Staff Writer
Evan Brown (she/her/hers) is a current Sophomore in the College of Communication studying Media Science with minors in Medical Anthropology and Theatre Performance. Born and raised in Chicago, she has always had a passion for exploring the world around her. When she’s not playing the role of Gemma on BUTV10’s longest-running soap opera– Bay State– or creating new content for BU Dining Services’ social media platforms, she can often be found eating ice cream or playing with her dog, Lou.