In the age of misinformation, aiming to increase vaccine confidence while simultaneously calling out anti-vax sentiment is quite a tricky task.
An ad campaign attempting to do just that has gone viral on Twitter after a user posted a photo of a truck driving around Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte prior to Sunday’s game between the Panthers and the Saints. The truck trumpeted the message “Don’t get vaccinated,” with “Wilmore Funeral Home” listed as its benefactor.
In reality, Wilmore Funeral Home doesn’t appear to exist. Its website is merely a mostly blank page featuring a “Get vaccinated now” box; clicking on it takes users to Charlotte provider StarMed Healthcare, and a page providing credible vaccine information.
The ad prompted lively debate across social media, with some people appreciating the cleverness of the approach and others believing it was real.
“It’s a smart marketing campaign that gets people talking,” said Andrew Miller, SVP of search and emerging media at CMI Media Group. “The shock value gets you the eyeballs and the attention. As a marketer, it’s exciting to see that, because finding your audience is not always an easy thing.”
Though it’s unclear exactly who launched the campaign or what prompted the unique approach, a phone number underneath the ad on the truck directs to Crenshaw Visions, an ad agency based in Lancaster, South Carolina.
The campaign seemingly plays on the notion that, in the current era of misinformation, people will interpret messaging in a manner that suits their own ideals and beliefs. Miller questioned whether the campaign represented an attempt to reach anti-vaxxers and point that out to them.
“If you’re targeting the audience that’s anti-vaxxer and you get them interested and engaged – and they’re getting to your website – you’re changing their point of view by giving them the chance to see that information they may not have otherwise,” Miller explained.
“The misinformation part is something we deal with in healthcare a lot, and it should be an increased focus for brands in general. Finding ways to support brand content with authoritative, vetted sources is important, because then you have the ability to combat the misinformation part.”
Miller added a caveat: That while the campaign may be clever, it plays on an idea that isn’t actually funny at all, which is that vaccine hesitancy has sent many people to real funeral homes.
“This is a risk that some companies and brands are willing to take to get the message across,” he said.