In a bid to create awareness and encourage people to get inoculated, brands are focusing on how the jab is cool. While 2020 was all about ‘stay home, stay safe’ and social distancing campaigns, in 2021 the focus is on Covid-19 vaccination, especially for the 18-44 age group. And brands are taking an innovative route, opting for social media campaigns to remove vaccine hesitancy.
From food and hospitality, automobile and apparel to consumer goods, brands such as OYO Rooms, Domino’s Pizza, Hero MotoCorp, Durex and many more are actively promoting the drive to increase confidence in masses and support the campaigns.
Explaining the strategy behind the narrative, brand specialist Harish Bijoor says it’s called moment marketing. “This kind of marketing makes the best of the moment. And the moment of time is vaccination. There’s a craving for it and there’s a shortage. And everybody understands that when the entire nation is vaccinated it is a safe nation. In a way, these campaigns also hint at subliminal promotion to show what the brand offers,” he says.
Echoing similar sentiments and pinning the hope on vaccine for a ‘new normal’ once again, ad film director Sudip Bandyopadhyay says, “Scenario is such that vaccine is a hope and brands are coming up with creatives to encourage masses.”
However, he also points out that it’s not only companies that are referred to as brands. Celebrities too make for a ‘brand’ and when they post pictures of a getting a jab, that is in a way inspiration as well. “Brand is a name – it could be an eminent personality and they’re are also taking vaccine and showing which sends the message that it is a necessity to go and get vaccinated,” he says adding that it’s not only the responsibility of government to spread awareness on these initiatives but also of large organisations, advertising and production houses.
Catchy and creative ads can go a long way in clearing out vaccine hesitancy. Brand guru, Jagdeep Kapoor says, “Ever since the vaccination drive kicked off for 18+, brands jumped on the bandwagon and have been trying to represent trendy, fashionable voices by sending out the message that ‘vaccine is in’ because the younger generation follows the trends. These messages can help overcome the resistance.”
He also points out that not many brands took the initiative to come up with digital campaigns when the vaccination started for people above 60 years of age and those over 45 with comorbidities.
This highlights the fact that specific group of consumer plays a key role for deciding campaigns as for many brands, 18-44 is the age bracket for their target audience, which is also most active on social media platforms. Advertising veteran Ajay Gahlaut says, “18-44 is a sweet spot for most brands. And social media is the right territory for the brands to get in and build their messaging around it. Also, in today’s time, it is a powerful tool for communication that needs to be lot more real-time, based on on-ground events, which is the case for vaccination encouragement.”
Compared to television, it’s easier to find the target audience on social media as, Gahlaut highlights, “The cost of a television campaign is expensive, so brands go for the space where major bulk of audience is going to watch it and get more eyeballs.”
Ad film director Prahlad Kakkar believes that a lot of brands took advantage of being the ‘good guy’ and are inspired from the move of the Biden administration partnering with McDonald’s and introducing We Can Do This campaign. He says, “There was a lot resistance to vaccine in America and it [campaign] became very successful and it all kicked off from there. Brands thought if a fast-food chain which is a great family place can promote, why can’t we? It was a reaction to American campaign.” However, he says for brands to encourage the masses here is ‘too little, too late’ as he states, “There was some resistance earlier [in March], but the momentum picked up when the second wave hit us. Masses registered, queued up at centers to get the jab.”