Texas Ad Campaign Tells Brutal Stories of the Unvaccinated
A few months ago, with less than 44 percent of Texans vaccinated and the delta variant spreading rapidly, Baylor Scott & White Health—the largest not-for-profit healthcare system in the state and one of the largest in the U.S.—embarked on a new vaccine campaign based on a blunt truth: that 99.5% of Texans who were still dying from Covid-19 were unvaccinated.
But how to convince them to get the vaccine? Through heartbreaking true stories told by vaccinated family members who'd lost a loved one.
Three powerful 90-second spots from Launch Agency in Dallas, directed by Jaci Judelson, visit three grief-stricken homes, where a combination of onscreen interviews and family mementos reveal lives cut short too soon. We've seen a lot of vaccine campaigns this year, but the depth of feeling in this one is special—as is the exhortation to "find the words" to encourage unvaccinated family members to change their minds.
The films have been airing in the Dallas area during Cowboys games for the past several weeks—at their full 90-second lengths. The vaccination rate in Texas has since risen to 52.6 percent.
Launch Agency also helped create a website with resources to help the vaccinated reframe the conversation with their friends and family to change minds and save lives.
We spoke with April Steinbach, creative director at Launch Agency, more about the campaign.
Muse: How did you find families willing to tell these stories?
April Steinbach: Baylor Scott & White Health's marketing and PR team helped gather all the families to be featured in the campaign. In fact, all these families were more than willing to participate with the hopes that their loved one's story could help change someone else's mind about getting vaccinated.
What was the process of gathering all the family photos?
Before filming, we interviewed our participants via phone/Zoom. Since we were featuring families that had lost someone or had someone in critical condition (Justin), we felt it was important to be able to show images of that person while the story was being told. All participants wanted to share photos and videos of their loved one. For them, it was a wonderful way to honor their memory.
Once we had the photos/videos, our director Jaci Judelson and her crew came up with creative ways to display and feature them in each film. The end result allowed viewers to get a sense of who that loved one was and how much they meant to their families.
The Jennifer film is unique. Why were you filming her at the time, not knowing she would lose her husband?
At the time of filming, all three stories had a similar thread. Families had either lost a loved one to Covid-19 who was not vaccinated or they had an unvaccinated loved one who was still in the hospital. Baylor Scott & White Health was even prominently running statistics in social and OOH that 94 percent of hospitalized Covid-19 patients are NOT vaccinated. So we wanted viewers to see that death or a long-term hospitalization could be avoided by getting vaccinated.
Jennifer's story was already very powerful even before his death. In fact, at the time of the interview, we thought he was turning a corner. It was quite a shock to hear the news he had died while we were actually editing her film. Each of these families are incredibly strong, and we are truly grateful to them for being brave enough to share their stories with our community.
What has the reaction been?
Since each :90 film broke during a Dallas Cowboys game, they definitely got a lot of exposure. We were grateful to see mostly positive comments and tweets during and after each game. We have even had requests from other counties to run these spots as PSAs in their area.
Of course, with a highly politicized topic like the Covid vaccine there will always be an opposing view, but the majority of the responses have been positive. We continue to see many people in our community sharing the videos on their social channels to help us spread the word.
Production Company: RAKISH
Director: Jaci Judelson at RAKISH
Director of Photography: Paul Meyers
Editors: Devon Bradbury and Meg Kubicka at Whitehouse Post
Colorist: Briana Brackett at Carbon
Music: Sixty Four Music
Mix & Sound: 19 Below
Producer: Jaime Roderer at Launch Agency
Photographer: Greg Kahn
Principal/Creative Director: David Wilgus at Launch Agency
Principal/Creative Director: Diane Seimetz at Launch Agency
Creative Director/Art Director: Brian Dedering at Launch Agency
Creative Director/Copywriter: April Steinbach at Launch Agency
Account Director: Jason Giles at Launch Agency
Account Supervisor: Megan Lucy Neal at Launch Agency
Director of Creative & Brand Management: Ben Day at Baylor Scott & White Health