We’ve written about the pandemic’s effect on marketing, audiences, and specific industries, but not on the virus itself. We’re not scientists who can create treatments or vaccines, and we’re not medical providers, although we do work with a lot of those folks. We’ve read, with interest, the information coming down the pipeline about the newly approved vaccines. Some of the most interesting conversations aren’t about the vaccines themselves but about changing perceptions surrounding the vaccine. A task that falls squarely on the laps of marketers.
The WHO, CDC, and other international and government agencies have been working diligently with marketing and advertising agencies for months to promote the vaccine. Yes, the vaccine has only been available for a month. Availability is only part of the battle. A 100% effective vaccine (none of the ones in the market are that effective, BTW) is 0% effective if no one takes it.
Various experts estimate that between 30-40% or more of the population is concerned about taking the coronavirus vaccine. Those numbers run higher for Black and Latino Americans. Some of the concern stems from the lack of knowledge about the vaccine and the pace at which it was developed. Some of the concern is an outgrowth of the anti-vaccine movement which encompasses other vaccines as well. And for minority groups, concern stems from a lack of faith in the government and distrust due to past ethics violations.
Trust in government and government-run agencies is at an all-time low, which adds challenges to changing the public’s mind about taking the vaccine. That’s where marketers come in.
The Ad Council, a nonprofit advertising group, is backing a $50 million campaign to encourage people to take the vaccine when it’s available to them. The same group ran similar campaigns during 1950 for the polio vaccine. The Ad Council’s campaign will address misconceptions about the vaccine, use trusted and influential messengers, tailor messaging to specific audiences, and encourage the use of face masks.
Large scale advertising campaigns aren’t the only plans for reaching the masses. With distrust of government and healthcare high, both are employing social media influencers to spread the word about vaccines. From Hollywood stars with millions of followers to regional medical experts, influencers are taking to the online stage to answer questions and even video themselves receiving the vaccine.
Marketing teams from hospitals, healthcare systems, and small clinics are all looking for ways to influence their patients to take the Coronavirus. In fact, these smaller groups may prove to be even more influential than social media stars with millions of followers. People often trust their local doctor to cut through the noise and explain things in real terms.
We’re seeing local hospitals share images of their doctors, nurses, therapists, and other staff members receiving their COVID vaccine. Many of these providers are active members of the community where they enjoy great respect. We believe this consistent marketing by local medical experts will make a big difference all across the country.
We’re watching how marketing rolls out in different regions using different media, and we’re curious to see how groups use influencer and social media marketing to change public perception.