Australia’s vaccine rollout hasn’t exactly gone smoothly, or at least that’s what two-thirds of Australians think.
There is concern about the pace of the rollout, as well as the potential side effects, especially after an advisory warned the AstraZeneca vaccine may cause extremely rare but potentially deadly blood clots for people under 50. According to an ANU study, the most common reasons Australians were hesitant about the vaccine was concern about possible side-effects (63.3%), followed by those planning to “wait and see” (55%).
Given the increasing vaccine hesitancy, it’s crucial public awareness campaigns address community concerns. But Kirsten McCaffery, director of the Sydney Health Literacy Lab at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health, told the ABC, it is “very unclear to date what the $24m spent on the vaccination communication campaign by the government has produced”.
There is one government Covid-19 vaccine ad. Heavy on information, low on creativity, the ad is less than inspiring, especially when compared with the efforts of other countries.
Perhaps Australia could draw some inspiration from these countries that have enlisted some of their most valuable resources, from free beer to celebrities, in their mission to counter vaccine hesitancy.
New Zealand opens the ‘metaphorical door to freedom’
New Zealand says “Ka kite, COVID,” meaning “see you, COVID” in the Māori language, in their public health campaign promoting the Covid-19 vaccine.
“You know what this is? It’s the metaphorical door to freedom,” says a healthcare worker in the video, referring to the liberating possibilities the vaccine offers. The ad tempts the audience with events like weddings and family reunions to be enjoyed by a vaccinated population.
The final message, “do it for each other”, emphasises vaccination isn’t just an individual choice, but a decision that benefits the whole community.
Singapore spreads disco fever, not Covid
The Singaporean government is using a pop song featuring comedian Gurmit Singh reprising his role from a popular 1990s sitcom as Phua Chu Kang, an eccentric contractor.
The video dispels concerns that vaccines might not be safe for older people and those with health conditions, and urges the population not to be complacent.
“But Covid numbers now so low, why take now, just take it slow,” complains Rosie in the video, voicing the attitude of many in Singapore, who would prefer to wait to take the vaccine. “Low cases isn’t no cases,” replies Phua Chu Kan.
NHS auditions celebrities (while busting vaccine myths)
The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK turned to household names such as Elton John and fresh talent such as Lydia West from It’s a Sin, in their promotional videos. But they haven’t given them the part just yet. The ad shows celebrities’ auditions, reading out lines busting some common vaccine myths.
British stand up comedian Lenny Henry says, “the vaccine does not contain the live virus and is definitely working”. Next up West exclaims “It doesn’t contain pork!”
Germany harnesses the power of the pun
Move over influencers. German celebrities are promoting the vaccine by sharing their own experience of getting their jabs as part of a new cohort of “impfluencers”. #Impfluencer is derived from “impfung” the German word for vaccine mashed with “influencer”.
Germany’s public safety campaigns in the face of Covid have been on point from the very start. Its stay at home campaign channelled romantic movie, The Notebook, featuring an elderly man, Anton Lehmann, reminiscing about how he served his country during the pandemic by doing “absolutely nothing, being as lazy as raccoons”. A follow up video with Lehmann’s wife, Luise, featured a flashback to the couple eating a bucket of fried chicken in bed.
Berlin’s tourism authority also released a campaign featuring an elderly woman flipping the bird to those who refuse to wear masks. Christian Tänzler, a spokesperson for Visit Berlin, told the BBC the ad has a distinctly Berlin tone, as “Berliners are very well known for their direct communication”.
Celebrities and free beer helping Americans to get the jab
The Ad Council, a public interest advertising association which has been creating campaigns to help Americans through crises since the second world war, including “Loose Lips Sink Ships” and “Buy War Bonds”, is now helping convince Americans to get vaccinated.
The Ad Council, and the COVID Collaborative, have together launched the “It’s Up To You” campaign on television, radio, websites and social media. The website, GetVaccineAnwers.org assures Americans it’s normal to have questions regarding vaccination and offers answers to those most frequently asked.
NBC reported that the campaign title “walks a tightrope between the choice people have about whether to get vaccinated and the responsibility they might feel to do so”.
Individual states in the US have also been providing incentives to their citizens. New Jersey governor Phil Murphy announced on Monday that those who get a Covid-19 vaccine in May will get a free beer. The state government teamed up with more than a dozen breweries as part of the “Shot and a Beer” project.
Celebrities have also jumped on board in the US. Possibly because he’s voiced God, Morgan Freeman acknowledges “for some reason people trust me … I trust science and I got the vaccine”.
Dolly Parton says “I’m old enough to get it and I’m smart enough to get it … I even changed one of my songs to fit the occasion,” before singing Jolene, replacing the titular name with “vaccine”.
Some small businesses have also joined in . Shalom Japan, a Jewish-Japanese fusion restaurant in Williamsburg NYC has created a cocktail in honour of chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, the “Fauci Ouchie”. One Fauci Ouchie entitles you to a second one free a month later upon presentation of your “drink record card”.
Google wants you out of your sweatpants
Google recently released “Get back to what you love” – an ad showing a search box deleting the “sweat” part of “sweatpants”, “virtual happy hour” becomes just “happy hour” and ends with the search “Covid vaccine near me”.