New campaign to encourage under-40s to get vaccinated set for July release

The Federal Department of Health is reportedly launching a new COVID-19 vaccine campaign, encouraging under-40s to get vaccinated, according to reports in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Contracts lodged on the Australian Government Tender website show BMF was awarded $1 million on 20 April 2021 for “Creative Services for COVID-19 Vaccines Campaign”. The department declined to identify which agency had prepared the previous campaigns for Australians aged 50 and above. It also signed a new contract with  Mediabrands Australia (the parent company of Universal McCann) for $18.59 million on 14 May for “COVID-19 Vaccine Media Buy” until 30 June 2021.

The recent campaign work was compared this month by Dr Norman Swan on the ABC’s Coronacast as similar to something produced by a “communist government committee”.

Market research firm, FiftyFive5 received $674,850 from the Department of Health for “COVID-19 Vaccine Exploratory Research”, which was initiated on 5 February, according to the Aus Tender website.

The department reportedly said that the new campaign would be changing advertising tactics to illicit a more “emotionally engaging response” from Australians. Although yet to be finalised, it will run from July across traditional forms of media, as well as on socials, including celebrities, and songs in order to engage the younger populations. This follows strategies seen in other countries, which have resulted in a more engaged and successful uptake as a result.

The vaccine campaign which has been running since January, was expanded earlier this month, an attempt to further encourage over 50s to get vaccinated.

Costing $24 million, the campaign has so far not inspired Australians to get out at the desired rate to get the jab, Dr Swan saying on the podcast that the style of advertisements chosen by the government were failing to produce the desired outcome and were “not enough”.

“We’ve got some of the best advertising creatives in the world in Australia, and we could produce, if we unleashed them, they could produce some amazing creative, rather than something that looks as if it’s been created by a communist government committee,” said Dr Swan.

Creative agency BMF, worked with the government last year to produce a campaign addressing mental health management as a result of the pandemic.  The $10 million campaign urged Australians to prioritise mental health by asking ‘How’s your head today?’

The vaccine campaigns aired during the past six months in Australia have come under heavy criticism, often being compared to campaigns seen elsewhere such as in New Zealand, Vietnam and the United Kingdom.

This month, a spokesperson for the Department of Health issued this statement on the advertising strategy to Mumbrella: “Each phase of the campaign is informed by consumer research to ensure it is delivering the messages Australians are seeking to support uptake of the program”.

Previous campaigns so far have taken a scientific approach, one which while informative, has not inspired Australians as of yet, with the national roll out being criticised for its slow progress.

The spokesperson also indicated the shift in approach at the different stages of the rollout, saying: “The campaign will further evolve as required as other groups become eligible and a different type or style of messaging is required”.

This has left many Australians wondering why campaigns for vaccinations would only require an emotive and creative approach for younger populations, leaving a dry approach for older Australians?

The Department for Health was contacted for more details regarding this campaign, however was did not respond by the time of publishing.

This article has been updated to correct a mistake regarding vaccine uptake in other countries referenced.


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