Poll: Should brands get involved in promoting COVID-19 vaccinations or not?

Should brands be doing more or less campaigning to get Australians vaccinated? Mumbrella's head of content Damian Francis asked the question in the most recent Best of the Week email. You can cast your vote here.

The waterfall of pro-vaccination campaigns from brands is in full flow, to the point where we have seen some double-ups in NAB turning into JAB and TAB doing the same. They did it around the same time as well.

Sure, it makes sense for both, but no one is winning awards for originality in this case.

There’s been a number of other brands helping to push the race to 80% including Virgin Australia, VB, Woolworths, Nine, the MCG and more. And this is where it gets interesting – let’s ignore who is using their hard-earned spend on it and focus on who isn’t.

Why do I say this? Well, the ins and outs of brand purpose have been discussed in great length over the years. Recently departed CMO for Koala, Peter Sloterdyk, was very pointed when he spoke to Mumbrella about his thoughts on it. I speak about this quite often because very few marketers have been as vocal and well-researched as Sloterdryk.

He said, “When brands do what is currently called ‘rainbow washing’ and turn their logo rainbow and make a $10,000 donation to a queer organisation one way or another – it is pandering. There is nothing authentic about it. If you don’t support that community, whatever that community is, the other 11 months of the year, there is nothing genuine about what you are doing.”

Of course, you can replace ‘rainbow washing’ with any other purpose in this argument. As he pointed out, as a queer consumer, his wallet worked the other 11 months of the year and for a brand to truly get behind a purpose, it had to have employees directly involved.

When it comes to vaccinations, that seems more clear-cut. It affects everyone in some way or another. Whether that’s because you work in a heavily affected industry, like aviation, or you are working from home at the moment because lockdowns have kept you away from the office, or your kids are at home all the time, or you can’t visit family.

With vaccinations the only way out, it seems like a safe bet for brands, particularly those affected more than others, to push for significant vaccination rates – 80% plus of all 16 and over citizens. It will help their bottom line, after all. You don’t even have to follow through with a ‘no vax no play’ rule like Qantas will do on international flights.

But in my industry ramblings this week I stumbled upon an interesting opinion. It was second-hand, to be honest, but it was someone explaining to me the thoughts of a leading marketer on pro-vaccination campaigns. This person was pro-vaccination and had been double jabbed, but didn’t believe it was the place for brands to be peddling ideology one way or the other. I found that interesting.

Did consumers really want brands to push purpose? We hear about younger demographics aligning their spend heavily to purpose, but what about the rest?

It made me think about the brands that had remained silent during this period who I would have thought might have had a bigger public push. Why did they choose to do this? Was it just not part of their plan? Had they run out of spend? Did they have other things they needed to push? Or were they genuinely avoiding the subject?

Was I expecting too much? I got the same response from everyone I spoke to, which is best summed up by paraphrasing one agency leader who said that it is extremely rare for brands to be able to join a cultural conversation where the majority feel the same way, and for that reason alone more brands should be pushing the final few to act.

So I want to throw the question to you. Should brands get involved in promoting COVID-19 vaccinations? Let me know your thoughts if you can spare the time – it’s a one-question survey and the results are anonymous. I’ll share the results in the next Best of the Week. Will an anonymous vote uncover some different thinking?


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