Local radio and television broadcasters have played a critical role in providing factual vaccine information in their communities, supporting and engaging in public service campaign efforts to help build vaccine confidence and address hesitancy. We recently spoke to Ad Council Chief Media Strategy and Partnerships Officer Kathy Kayse about their “It’s Up to You” vaccine education. As members of the COVID Collaborative, NAB is working with the Ad Council to help local journalists craft vaccine education messages that best resonate with their audiences.

What is the message behind the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s Vaccine Education Initiative and “It’s Up to You” campaign? How was this messaging developed?

“It’s Up to You” is a research-driven effort from the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative centered on education. We want to give people the answers they need to help make informed decisions for themselves and their families about the COVID-19 vaccines.

The platform takes an empathetic approach to ending the pandemic. People have questions, and that’s okay. We are acknowledging people’s questions and concerns, while also providing the most accurate information possible to get people educated on the vaccines through our PSAs and website, GetVaccineAnswers.org.

We’ve undertaken a comprehensive insights process to understand the vaccine hesitant consumer mindset and how to effectively message to build vaccine confidence. Our research was done across race, ethnicity, age, geographic location and political affiliation to help us identify the greatest levels of hesitancy and the messages that would best resonate with those who are undecided and have lower vaccine confidence.

The “It’s Up to You” campaign is designed to reach all Americans. But while a coordinated campaign is critical, one size will not fit all. We’ve taken a very nuanced and targeted approach to address differences in barriers and meet audiences where they are.

We have specific strategies in place to reach our key audiences, including Black, Hispanic and conservative Americans, and we’re working to reach new key audiences as they become vaccine eligible.

Can you tell us a bit about the creative process? Who were some of your partners in developing the PSAs?

To reach vaccine hesitant individuals across the country, creative agency Pereira O’Dell worked pro bono to develop the creative platform for “It’s Up to You.” The platform takes an empathetic approach and reaffirms for consumers that it’s understandable to have questions about the vaccines. The campaign aims to inspire people to get informed about the vaccines as a way to get back to the people and moments we miss.

In addition to Pereira O’Dell, we have engaged a coalition of creative agency partners for this critical effort to make sure we are developing culturally relevant and resonant campaigns for our key audiences. The agency JOY Collective has worked to adapt the “It’s Up to You” platform with content specifically developed to reach and resonate with Black communities. Culture marketing agency Alma customized the creative platform to produce “De Ti Depende,” a campaign designed to resonate with Hispanic communities.

Leading brands, media companies and social platforms are also developing custom content and donating media to extend the “It’s Up to You” message, connecting their audiences with crucial and vetted information about the COVID-19 vaccines. Our list of partners is wide ranging from pharmacies to media companies and the hospitality industry.

The Ad Council’s model has always been built on the foundation of partnership and collaboration across industry and sector. Our ability to work together and to leverage the unique skills and resources of varied partners ensures exponential impact.

What is the campaign’s ultimate goal?

The Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s COVID-19 vaccine Education Initiative is the largest and most critical communications effort in our nation’s history in terms of size, scale, speed and urgency. Our goal is to ensure the American public has the most accurate information possible to get educated on the vaccines and, ultimately, to help them feel empowered to make an informed choice for themselves and their families. The COVID-19 vaccines are an important tool in helping us turn the tide of the pandemic.

We’ve heard many news reports about communities of color being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. How does the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s campaign address this challenge?

This is a multi-faceted effort with unique campaigns designed to reach distinct audiences, including – importantly – communities of color who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. To reach our intended audiences, the traditional media placements you’re accustomed to seeing from the Ad Council — including TV, radio, outdoor, digital and more — is being coupled with a comprehensive grassroots, community-based outreach effort to ensure our messages are reaching consumers with the right messages, at the right place and time.

Our research shows that communities of color are seeking more information to guide their decision about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, so in addition to culturally relevant and resonant PSAs, we are developing custom toolkits, events and other opportunities to help grassroots organizations provide valuable tools and resources on the ground. We are also developing educational materials to distribute in point-of-care and point-of-purchase environments to help maximize our reach and better focus on essential workers and working agency, brand and media partners to reach communities on the ground.

Since distrust of COVID-19 vaccination is one of the main drivers of hesitancy, who the message comes from can be just as important as what the message entails. To ensure the facts are reaching Americans from people they trust, we are leveraging trusted messengers that resonate with our key audiences. This includes doctors, nurses, pharmacists, national medical experts, faith-based and community influencers, musicians, actors/actresses, digital content creators and more who are participating in our PSAs, events and amplifying the facts across their networks.

Coalition building is core to our strategy, and we are partnering with organizations that serve Black and Hispanic communities and are also committed to driving education on COVID-19 vaccines, such as Black Coalition Against COVID-19 (BCAC), Color of Change, NAACP, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association, National Urban League, UnidosUS, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) and others. We are also partnering with prominent faith leaders and organizations that reach Black and Hispanic communities across the country. 

What tools and resources are available to stations to participate in the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s vaccine education efforts and where can they find them?

All “It’s Up to You” campaign efforts drive audiences to GetVaccineAnswers.org (DeTiDepende.org in Spanish) for answers to the top questions Americans have about the COVID-19 vaccines, and we encourage stations to share that URL with their viewers. Vetted by experts at the CDC, HHS and COVID Collaborative, content on the website is available in seven languages including English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Russian, Haitian Creole and Vietnamese and will be continually updated as new information and data becomes available.

Stations can also visit adcouncil.org/covid-vaccine for PSA assets as well as toolkits broken out by audience which include message guidance, language do’s and don’ts, audience insights and additional creative assets. We hope stations will leverage these tips and tools to help increase vaccine confidence.

Local radio and television stations can also access the Ad Council’s “It’s Up to You” PSAs and resources on NAB’s vaccine toolkit.