‘Don’t get a vaccine’: A satirical recommendation of a phony funeral home to promote vaccines against COVID-19

A widespread marketing campaign “recommends” that people not be vaccinated with a false funeral home ID. Photo: (booneoakley)

The pickup truck caught attention as it circled around the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte., during the Carolina Panthers game on Sunday.

“You are not vaccinated,” read the digital signs on the sides and rear of the vehicle. Below, the name and The website of a company pretending to be a funeral home is written in white letters, plus a 10-digit phone number.

It turned out to be an elaborate and highly unorthodox campaign to promote coronavirus vaccines, one that has won plaudits from local hospital leaders. And users of social networks when Spread on TwitterSome marketers of vaccines wondered whether any downturn would be affected by the blunt message.

The non-existent Wilmore Funeral Home web address led users to a landing page that simply reads: “Get vaccinated now. If not, see you soon.” It has linked up on StarMed’s vaccination registration site, the region’s health care provider.

The campaign achieved its mission by going viral and being the center of attention as the car carrying the ad drove. Photo: (booneoakley)
The campaign achieved its mission by going viral and being the center of attention as the car carrying the ad drove. Photo: (booneoakley)

For more than a day, the people behind this stunt remained a mystery, even for StarMed officials. The site creator was hidden and the number on the side of the truck led to a third party whose voicemail was unsurprisingly full.

On Tuesday morning, a local advertising agency revealed that the banner and website were his idea. “We did. Get vaccinated,” BooneOakley wrote in a tweet.

The race to immunize people against the coronavirus and its fast-moving variants has generated a number of propaganda efforts, most of them focused on persuading people with kindness. Of the proven benefits of vaccines and the promise of ending the epidemic.

Vaccine hesitation remains a major concern for health officials all over the world. Less than 55% of the country is fully immune, according to its tracking Washington Postt, and the number of vaccines administered daily has remained below 1 million since early summer.

The Ad Council Public Interest group has spent months incubating the “It’s Up to You” campaign, focusing on building trust and encouraging people to reflect on what has been lost as the virus spread.. Some Facebook ads have sought to woo reluctant conservatives by promoting things as a way to “take back our freedoms.” At the local level, some health departments have taken a humorous approach: Baltimore recently won praise for eliminating misinformation online with its “Gingerbread Can’t Cure COVID” meme.

In North Carolina, where less than half the population has been fully vaccinated, Boone Oakley has attempted a more controversial tactic.

David Oakley, the company’s president, said the 22-person agency came up with the idea of ​​a fake funeral home while talking about who benefits from getting unvaccinated people sick and dying from COVID-19. Creating a phony company seemed a provocative way to draw attention to the problem.

Photo of a bag containing a deceased person from COVID-19 at the Harlem International Funeral & Cremation Services funeral home, amid the coronavirus pandemic.  April 10, 2020 (Reuters) / Andrew Kelly
Photo of a bag containing a deceased person from COVID-19 at the Harlem International Funeral & Cremation Services funeral home, amid the coronavirus pandemic. April 10, 2020 (Reuters) / Andrew Kelly

“All that is being done now is very simple: ‘get vaccinated,’ ‘vaccinate today.’ It was a different way of getting the message across,” Oakley said in an interview.

The group decided to direct people to StarMed because the health care provider has been a major force in pushing for vaccines and testing in the area. Oakley said agency executives appreciated her brave presence on social media.

“We have personally felt that this is a cause we believe in and we should use our resources for the greater good,” he added.

A patient with COVID-19 is transferred to a hospital in the United States, in file photo.  EFE / Etienne Laurent
A patient with COVID-19 is transferred to a hospital in the United States, in file photo. EFE / Etienne Laurent

A mock funeral home billboard truck circled around the downtown football field during the Panthers game against New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon. And soon the photos spread on Twitter, with users praising the campaign and happy with the ironic form of the message. One wrote: “This is divine level marketing.”

Whether it will really convince those who do not want to be vaccinated is another question. Much of the promotion of vaccines in the United States has led to the avoidance of the type of fear-based advertising commonly used in anti-smoking campaigns. The footage itself has become so divisive that some researchers warn that such messages may backfire.

Stacy Wood, a North Carolina State University professor who studies coronavirus vaccine promotion, said the Bonn Oakley campaign Perhaps it was too much pressure to change an unvaccinated person’s mind. In any case, he said he risks strengthening his position.

FILE - In this July 21, 2020, file photo, Daryl Hutchinson is embraced by a relative during the funeral of Lydia Nunez, his cousin, at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Los Angeles.  Lydia Nunez has died of COVID-19.  (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
FILE – In this July 21, 2020, file photo, Daryl Hutchinson is embraced by a relative during the funeral of Lydia Nunez, his cousin, at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Lydia Nunez has died of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

“By studying how people make decisions, marketers have found that when people feel pressured to make a particular decision and that pressure is sufficient, it makes them feel that their true freedom of choice is affected,” Wood said.

“I can understand that the fake lime trick has been adopted by vaccinators to mitigate black humor in tense situations; It’s an effective joke, but it’s not effective marketing“, specific.

Scott Ratzan, a health communications expert at City University of New York, expressed similar skepticism. “This kind of fear does not move people when they know that there are people who have contracted the virus and did not dieLaments Razan, whose research has included interviews with vaccine skeptics across the country.

Oakley said he was well aware the announcement would hit a nerve and was happy to seize the opportunity. In an unconventional campaign.

“All we can do to vaccinate people. If you make someone change their mind, it is worth every penny.”

Florida on Thursday reported 21,183 new cases of COVID-19 and 901 cumulative deaths since July 25 as a result of the pandemic, while the state continues to lead the number of hospitalizations across the United States.  EFE / EPA / CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH / Archive
Florida on Thursday reported 21,183 new cases of COVID-19 and 901 cumulative deaths since July 25 as a result of the pandemic, while the state continues to lead the number of hospitalizations across the United States. EFE / EPA / CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH / Archive

StarMed officials welcomed BooneOakley’s unconventional approach. The company’s chief medical officer, Arin Peramazadian, told the Charlotte Observer that he was “100 percent in favor” of saving one patient’s life.

Chris Dobbins, Head of Relations and Response at StarMed, said he learned of the BooneOakley campaign when he started getting calls asking about the truck. Since then, Web traffic has surged to the company’s test and vaccine pages, he said, and some people have called to thank them for their encouragement of vaccinations..

“It’s not your typical marketing plan. But, actually, people looked.” If you want to educate and motivate people, we would appreciate that,” Dobbins concluded.

(Author information: Derek Hawkins is a reporter covering national and breaking news. Tweet embed)

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