With COVID-19 still raging, plenty of us are juggling between life in a mask and the hope that a sense of normalcy will soon arrive at our doorstep – especially now with the appearance of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Universally, it is believed and imagined that this fresh availability of the vaccine will liberate us from the shackles of the pandemic.
However, the ‘vaccine’ to ‘vaccination’ walk has to be marched before society pulls up its shutters and this, unfortunately, is a journey filled with challenges.
As a remedy, vaccines can only be effective if or when their use is being backed by a substantial amount of people, and for pharmaceutical firms, persuading these audiences is perhaps one of their biggest marketing challenges.
For instance, public hesitancy against the vaccination due to fear of side effects is quite prevalent. In a survey (World Economic Forum) from June 2020, only 71.5% of the participants were reportedly voted ‘somewhat’ or ‘very likely’ towards receiving the vaccine.
However, experts estimate that a minimum of 70% of the global population is needed to gain immunity against the virus to prevent community spread.
Hence, overcoming this rampant vaccine hesitancy will mean marketers must shore up the good old public trust, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector along with public health infrastructures (something that many countries seem to currently lack in).
The Role is Bigger than You’d Think!
Ever since mass vaccination launched globally, it no doubt faces numerous challenges. This is where marketers sweep in as businesses can actually aid in overcoming these “challenges”.
Given the influence large employers are known to wield, they can significantly mitigate if not completely remedy the situation. This means the business sector plays a vital role in promoting vaccine literacy along with inciting vaccination trust within the workplace.
In the meantime, workplace safety precautions for covid-19 remain vital in pulling back the pace of its spread. Additionally, employment records prove to be a valuable data asset to aid health systems in providing a more stable vaccine coverage.
But apart from workplace precautions, how are marketers aiding in persuading the general public?
Well, here’s a much deeper dive into the play.
1. Building the Public Trust
Typically, those individuals that were already willing to get vaccinated do not require much of a nudge from marketers. However, for those hesitant towards the vaccination, marketers along with agency executives are aiming to encourage these individuals by taking a much more friendly approach.
An approach that garners the inclusion of educational yet non-judgmental messages that appeal to society’s hunger for normalcy.
In the past month alone, Budweiser became the newest member to offer giveaways for individuals that get vaccinated, thus, joining other major brands like Sam Adams and Krispy Kreme that encourages vaccination with the free product offering.
As with local & national vaccine campaigns, instead of recycling the same old approach of their previous immunization campaigns, marketers and agency executives are being increasingly cautious with the tone and strategy of their campaigns because of the politicization surrounding the vaccine.
Founder and the Creative Chairman of Pereira and O’Dell, PJ Pereira states anything with a hint of Judgment often tends to backfire. Further commenting how the agency ensured its national vaccination campaign entertained a more non-judgmental effort.
“Rather than instructing people on what they should too, looking for ways to communicate concerns about the vaccine while also educating them about its creation remains crucial” (Ambika Gautam Pai, Mekanisms chief strategy officer).
Recently, its agency started the ‘Made to Save’ campaign on covid-19 vaccination that aims at improving vaccine trust, particularly for the POC community.
2. Carving a Sensible Community Sentiment
In the US, pharmaceutical companies employ communication over-vaccination benefits directly through a media shower. “Storytelling is equally significant in healthcare marketing as they are in FMCG brand” as Gillis states.
But countries with restricted pharmaceutical advertising must take other paths to reach audiences. For instance, the recent appearance of Professor Ugur Sahin, BioNTechs chief executive on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show provokes much more value when compared to glossy video production.
Taking a more localized effort can also be extremely crucial. Marketing & advertising company, Hanson Dodge recently discovered that individuals hesitant about getting vaccinated had a better response to ads that featured other members from within their own Milwaukee community as opposed to celebrities or politicians.
FBB Health’s behavioral Science director, Linda Cowie comments on how audience analysis remains vital in curating proper messages for marketing the vaccine. Cowie further lands on how the aim is “designing tools in such a way that it optimizes the effectiveness in driving change, rather than simply conveying information”.
With the current technological tools and methods like AI chatbots and voice assistants the marketing field is utilizing, marketers can boost direct engagement with the public while combating misinformation altogether.
Paired with those technological marvels, marketers and agencies alike can enhance and widen the key approach of inspiring people to get vaccinated.
But this isn’t only about employing tech, it largely has a lot to do with community sentiment and coming together as one. After all, at its essence, vaccinating the world should fall on deeply humanizing campaign efforts and nothing else.
BSSP head of strategy, Jake Bayham urges any agencies to get together with vaccination campaigns as their shop had recently done so with the California Blue Shield on an awareness campaign concerning the vaccine.
He further elaborates “the more folks we have coming together, utilizing their creative & strategic expertise along with underscoring vaccination importance, the sooner we’ll be able to get out from it together”.
The end of Covid-19 is already in sight, however, the final march won’t be achieved until and unless people grow confident with performing daily routines & behaviors like physically socializing, traveling, dining out, and more.
The endgame of vaccinating the entire world will most probably uneven, hence, it’ll take time to reach a substantial amount of confidence in individuals for achieving the path to post-pandemic life.
This is where marketers can constantly urge and remind audiences towards progressive vaccine intake. People’s behaviors can no doubt be changed following the influence creative marketers hold.