Pope Francis calls COVID vaccine an 'act of love' in Ad Council campaign

The organization goes all the way to the Vatican for latest in 'It's Up to You' vaccine confidence ad

Published On
Aug 18, 2021

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The Ad Council has had no shortage of high-profile names to help get the word out about the COVID-19 vaccine. PSAs from its vaccine education initiative, “It’s Up to You,” have leveraged the influence of former Presidents and First Ladies, actors, athletes and music stars (including Willie Nelson) and more. Now, the latest ad goes all the way to the Vatican.

Representing the organization’s first-ever campaign created for and distributed to a global audience, the new spot features Pope Francis, joined by six cardinals and archbishops from North, Central and South America. They remind viewers in English, Spanish and Portuguese of the coronavirus vaccines’ safety, efficacy and ability to save lives

In the ad, Pope Francis says that getting the vaccine as an “act of love. I pray to God that each one of us can make his or her own small gesture of love. No matter how small, love is always grand."

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The spot continues the Ad Council’s push to speak to communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19. It was made in partnership with the Vatican’s Dicastery for Integral Human Development. Landia and Big Star were behind the production, while the overall campaign platform was created by Pereira & O’Dell.

Recent data shows 72% of adults in the U.S. have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but only 67% of Hispanic adults in the country have been vaccinated. Globally, coronavirus cases continue to rise, especially in North, Central and South America. The rates of fully vaccinated people in those regions range from only 5.5% in Honduras, to 30% in El Salvador.

Given that Latin America is overwhelmingly Catholic, what better way to instill vaccine confidence than through the platform of the religion's most influential leaders. “To the world’s billion-plus Catholics, the Pope is one of the most trusted messengers and holds unparalleled influence,” said Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council in a statement. “We are extremely grateful to him and the Cardinals and Archbishops for lending their voices and platforms to help people across the globe feel more confident in the vaccines.”

“This campaign was built to recruit influential voices, allow them to make the message theirs, all while keeping the different statements connected in tone, strategy and values," Pereira & O'Dell co-founder and Creative Chairman PJ Pereira tells Ad Age. "Nowhere in our wildest dreams would we have imagined the Pope to lend his voice to this campaign."