In the spring of 2021, long lines formed all across the U.S. as people waited to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Experts were already seeing warning signs that the short supply of vaccines would soon turn into a lack of demand, and with no local government vaccination campaign in North Texas, local business leaders represented by the Dallas Regional Chamber boldly stepped up and enlisted an Edelman-led coalition of local, female and minority-owned agencies to mount a vaccination campaign.

At the time, most vaccine campaigns — including those of hospitals in the area — were only telling people what to do: get the shot. They were rational, focused on raising awareness and informing the public with accurate information. But DRC’s objective was to increase vaccinations among hesitant groups, so, we knew it would require an unconventional approach — we needed to give them a reason why.

Through our own research, we found that North Texans care about the health of their local economy. In fact, 77 percent of people believed vaccinations would benefit the economy . But few of them realized how much local businesses were still suffering: 1 in 3 small businesses had closed their doors, and key sectors like Leisure & Hospitality remained down 50 percent.

With this insight, we created a campaign to save lives and livelihoods, “Take Care of Business” (“Manos A La Obra”). Instead of just telling people what, we told them why: “Getting the vaccine isn’t just about protecting people, it’s about protecting paychecks.”

STRATEGY & EXECUTION

Conventional marketing wisdom is to target those who are most receptive to a campaign’s messaging, but in order for “Take Care of Business” to be successful and prompt people to get vaccinated, we didn’t have that luxury. We had to influence hesitant groups.

We used Edelman’s Trust Barometer research to understand people’s reasons for hesitancy, and we prioritized the two dimensions most fundamental to peoples’ perception of the vaccines: its Ability and Dependability. The former was focused on those who doubted the Ability of vaccines, worrying about side-effects, and the latter focused on those who doubted the Dependability of the vaccines, lacking access to public health resources. Those who held these perceptions included many Black and Latino North Texans, who comprised more than half of the population, but less than half of the vaccinated population.

We tailored the messages to each group using extensive research to the most effective propositions across multiple channels to reach our target audiences — from PSAs on television, radio and billboards across the city, to advertisements in local grocery stores and performance-based marketing on social media. The integrated campaign launched at a workforce center where people could “Take Care of Business” by getting a job and a shot, and we also sponsored more than 80 vaccination events in ZIP codes with less access to public health. Research also showed the effect that monetary incentives have on hesitant groups, so we designed a unique incentive program that would encourage vaccinations while also stimulating local businesses; on TakeCareofBusinessDFW.org, residents receiving the vaccine could win prizes from businesses based in Dallas-Fort Worth including the Dallas Cowboys, Mavericks, American and Southwest Airlines, Six Flags and Frito-Lay.

OUTCOME

The campaign resulted in an outsized impact in the Dallas-Fort Worth media market:

  • 150 media placements — including local affiliates of all major television networks — resulting in more than 380 million impressions.
  • Online, we secured more than 400,000 paid impressions targeting audiences on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In addition, the campaign generated nearly 50,000 organic social engagements.

This high degree of saturation drove home our message, which ultimately positively affected vaccination in the region. One month into the “Take Care of Business” campaign, weekly vaccination of adults eligible to win prizes began to turn around, increasing by 20 percent, and after two months, more than 400,000 more of these adults had been vaccinated.