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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 2:24 am | Fair 48º


Isla Vista Rebranding Campaign to Hit Airwaves Monday

IV Safe committee worked together to create commercial, messaging to revitalize community’s image

Local officials and IV Safe Committee members are participating in television commercials as part of a rebranding effort to change the negative perception of Isla Vista. Clockwise from top left are District Attorney Joyce Dudley, Sheriff Bill Brown, San Marcos High School drama teacher Riley Berris and Goleta Councilman Michael Bennett.
Local officials and IV Safe Committee members are participating in television commercials as part of a rebranding effort to change the negative perception of Isla Vista. Clockwise from top left are District Attorney Joyce Dudley, Sheriff Bill Brown, San Marcos High School drama teacher Riley Berris and Goleta Councilman Michael Bennett.  (Contributed photos)

Locals will start seeing a new branding campaign for Isla Vista on Monday, complete with rhetoric fashioned around the unincorporated community’s nickname: IV.

“Strive to be your best. Live a life that makes you proud. Give back to your community.”

Each action contains “IV,” a messaging strategy embraced after a months-long process to create a new TV, print and social media re-branding blitz centered on revamping the reputation of the community of 23,000 adjacent to UC Santa Barbara.

The IV Safe Committee, formed in 2013 by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley after an unusual series of violent crimes in Isla Vista, spearheaded the messaging effort by bringing on local branding expert Ken Berris, who has worked on many entertainment-related and political campaigns, including Dudley’s.

IV Safe boasts members across stakeholder groups, including the County Sheriff’s Department, UCSB, Santa Barbara City College, the city of Goleta, college students and more.

Safety has become a big issue for the Isla Vista community, which was rocked in 2013 and 2014 with violent riots, a gang rape, and a mass shooting and stabbing rampage in May 2014 that claimed the lives of six UCSB students.

The events gained negative national attention, but locals know the densely populated community — a majority of residents are college students — has been fighting a party school image for decades.

“It’s good for everybody if IV becomes a safer place,” Berris said. “It can really have a far-reaching nature.”

A TV commercial featuring top county officials and IV Safe members, posing in front of the Isla Vista coastline paintings of artist Chris Potter, will begin airing Monday on KEYT and its FOX affiliates, as well as Cox Communications network stations.

Branding materials are available for wide-scale use, which is why the Santa Barbara Unified School District hopes to post the messaging at its high school and junior high sites, Berris said.

SBCC president Lori Gaskin polled IV Safe committee members to narrow down the group’s top priority — shifting Isla Vista’s image, culture and negative perspective.

“It is home to renowned educational institutions,” she said.

“It is home to the devoted perennial residents who love Isla Vista. (The video) is a very powerful statement that IV is so much more than what many people perceive it as. It has a heart and soul. This is just the start.”

Unlike most things involving Isla Vista, the campaign video is something everyone wants to take ownership in.

UCSB, SBCC and the city of Goleta chipped in $15,000 each for the campaign — or direct airtime — with the sheriff’s department and District Attorney’s office pitching in $5,000 each, according to Dudley.

The county also provides $10,000 annually for IV Safe funding.

Although image might not have been Dudley’s first priority, the county’s top prosecutor said she was pleased that instead of seeming like a “rebranding,” the video helps shine a light on all the progress made in IV.

New sidewalks, lighting and a permanent fencing along the bluffs at IV parks are among safety improvements, as well as heightened law enforcement presence and dipping crime rates during historically busy Halloween and Deltopia street parties.

“I like that it’s positive,” Dudley said of the video. “Everybody wants to live in a beautiful, safe place.”

The Sheriff’s Office was also pleased to be involved in IV Safe and in “the difference this collaboration is already making in this vibrant and unique community,” said Kelly Hoover, department spokeswoman.

Berris said he hopes local celebrity residents would soon get involved, helping carry the message far outside county limits for years to come.

George Thurlow, UCSB assistant vice chancellor and liaison to Isla Vista, said the university was happy to support a cohesive effort to highlight Isla Vista.

He wasn’t sure if UCSB would embrace the messaging itself, since the university has its own public affairs department communicating achievements.

“Improving the quality of life in Isla Vista … that is an incredibly complicated long-term project,” Thurlow said.

“It took us 60 years to get to where we are now. Mostly, at the end of the day, it has to come from the people who live in Isla Vista.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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