Coronavirus vaccine confidence campaign reminds viewers of the intimacy that we once took for granted

Moving PSAs come from Pfizer, BioNTech and alliance of healthcare organizations

Published On
Jan 12, 2021

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Swaying Americans to line up for the COVID vaccine has already shaped up to be a complicated task, with various groups—drugmakers, data scientists, healthcare companies, the U.S. government, ad agencies and social media platforms—weighing in. We’ve already seen the first consumer-facing push from Moderna, via TBWA, while back in April, Pfizer debuted a mass-market campaign with the tagline “Science will win.” While that effort aimed for the head, Pfizer, along with BioNTech and a consortium of medical organizations, are now going straight for the heart. 

Four PSAs in the “Because of This” campaign highlight intimate interactions between family members and friends, most of which we wouldn’t give a second thought about before COVID hit. Friends hug, an elderly man plays with his baby grandchild, a family reveals a new member is on the way, a father greets his child on the other side of a glass door.  

The copy then underscores the point of each in a reverse answer-then-question format. 

In the baby reveal spot, for example, the first line states:

A: Because some people you just want to meet in person.

Then, the second line appears:

Q: Why will you get vaccinated?

Copy on the father and child spot is particularly heart-tugging, stating "Because hellos have gotten too rare. And goodbyes have gotten too hard." 



The "Hug" ad highlights the one interaction that's become all too rare in the age of COVID:


While "Playdate" gives grandparents an adorable reason to protect themselves:


All spots end with the lines “Science can make this possible. Only you can make it real.”  They then direct viewers to the site, which connects them to info on vaccines from the CDC, the World Health Organization, the FDA and the National Institute of Health.

The ads were created out of Mischief @ No Fixed Address in collaboration with Dini von Mueffling Communications. They will begin rolling out today on the social media channels of Pfizer, BioNTech and the medical associations backing the PSAs: American Nurses Association, National Black Nurses Association, American Pharmacists Association, The American College of Emergency Physicians and American College of Preventive Medicine. The spots will also air on TV nationally in the coming days, and later this week, an out-of-home push will debut, backed by a $1.4M media donation from Quan Media Group. 

According to Mischief at NFA Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer Greg Hahn, the campaign has been in the works since August. Pfizer had approached the agencies to create a PSA campaign to help build people’s confidence in a vaccine, even before its own vaccine with BioNTech had been approved. 

“We had a lot of discussions and thought, we could lay bare the facts—but what would really convince somebody?” Hahn says. “The facts and figures are there, so people may just find the ones that support the views they already have, but you can open their minds by touching them emotionally.”

The agency came up with a number of concepts but the one that rose to the top homed in on real moments. “The thing that really struck me was all the little moments that seemed so casual a year ago seem so massive now,” Hahn says. “We forget how much we’ve given up. We need to remind people this should be normal.”

Mischief sifted through real scenes the agency found on social channels and other outlets and obtained approval from the creators. “We tried to pick a wide variety—the joyous moments like someone having a baby, or the spontaneous, which is what the hug was about. We just wanted to capture the emotion and raw energy.”

The team then came up with lines that spoke to the various scenes. The “answer” appears before the “question” as a way to create intrigue and intensify each spot’s pay-off. 

“One of the greatest tasks facing Americans right now is understanding that widespread vaccination is an essential part of returning to the way our lives used to be,” said Dini von Mueffling, founder and CEO of DVMC in a statement. 

“This was meant to appeal to everybody,” Hahn adds. “We want people to see them and say, I really want [the virus] to go away.”

Join us for the Ad Age Next: Health & Wellness virtual event on Feb. 11, where health and wellness execs will discuss how their brands have changed in recent months, and what lies ahead. Register here.