Collaboration organizes 'It's Up to You' vaccination campaign

The Ad Council and COVID Collaborative have revealed the platform for their COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative, "It's Up To You."

Representing one of the largest public education efforts in U.S. history, more than 300 major brands, media companies, community-based organizations, faith leaders, medical experts and other trusted messengers are supporting the campaigns designed to reach distinct audiences. These partners include Adobe, Apple, Bishop T. D. Jakes, Black Information Network, Facebook, FOX Entertainment, Google/YouTube, iHeartMedia, John Leguizamo, NAACP, NBCUniversal, Pandora/SiriusXM/SoundCloud, Sanjay Gupta, Telemundo, UnidosUS, ViacomCBS and more.

Created in close partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ensuring all "It's Up To You" messaging is rigorously vetted and backed by science, the campaigns urge audiences to visit GetVaccineAnswers.org (DeTiDepende.org in Spanish) to get the latest information about COVID-19 vaccines, with the ultimate goal of helping the public feel confident and prepared to get vaccinated once a vaccine is available to them.

"With the 'It's Up To You' platform, we're listening to America's top questions, understanding their concerns and working to educate and empower people across the country – particularly communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic – so they can make an informed choice about vaccination for themselves and for their families," said Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council.  "Our extraordinary partners across the communications industry are uniquely positioned to amplify these critical messages at scale. Through this truly unprecedented effort, we can get back to the moments we all miss and save lives."

Ad Council research fielded by Ipsos Public Affairs in February 2021 reveals that approximately 40% of the public have not yet made a firm decision to get vaccinated as soon as vaccines are available to them. Additionally, the data illustrates the need for a bespoke effort reaching communities of color who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and where there is considerable distrust in the government and medical community and high hesitancy toward the vaccines. The Ad Council's research shows that Black and Hispanic Americans who are undecided are significantly less confident they have enough information to guide their decision about getting a COVID-19 vaccination, compared to those intending to get vaccinated.

Approximately three-quarters of consumers who are undecided say they want information to address their questions about the vaccines, even if vaccines are not yet available to them.

The CDC brand will be seen on select creative assets and, along with HHS, the CDC is providing scientific guidance on all aspects of the campaign. COVID Collaborative is lending insights from its scientific experts to the effort, engaging many members of its collaborative who represent the diversity of the country to help with dissemination, and connecting the campaign to Governors and other leaders in states.

"Public education is a critical component of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic — it is a shared effort to empower people to protect themselves, especially those in disproportionally burdened populations," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky. "Just as we are taking action to address the inequities this pandemic laid bare, we need a concerted approach to bring an end to the pandemic and to leverage the lessons learned during COVID-19 to achieve optimal health for all."

To reach vaccine hesitant individuals across the country, creative agency Pereira O'Dell worked pro bono to develop the creative platform, "It's Up To You." Taking an empathetic approach that reaffirms that it's understandable to have questions about the vaccines, "It's Up To You" conveys that one of the best ways to get back to the moments and people we miss is by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Agency JOY Collective has also worked to adapt the "It's Up To You" platform with content specifically developed to reach and resonate with the Black communities. The strategic framework underpinning the "It's Up To You" platform, normalizing hesitancy and answering important questions, was developed by BeenThereDoneThat.

Creative assets in English and Spanish will appear nationwide across broadcast TV, digital, radio and social media beginning this week. Additional work will also roll out over the coming weeks, including content developed by modern culture marketing agency Alma, which customized the creative platform to produce "De Ti Depende," a campaign designed to resonate with Hispanic communities in the U.S. Registration is also now open for a special edition of Hispanicize on March 12 featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci, Beto Perez, John Leguizamo, Karen Martinez, Luis Guzman and others.

"This is not only the most important campaign of our generation, but it needs to be the largest too," said PJ Pereira, Creative Chairman, Pereira O'Dell. "It had to be an idea that worked not only for the audience, but allowed for brands and publishers to make it theirs, too."

(View a video here.)

"As a Black and woman-owned agency, we are proud to partner with the Ad Council to lead the campaign efforts within the Black community. With a multifaceted creative, digital, social, events and grassroots campaign focused on educating the Black community in a credible, culturally relevant way, while inspiring them to 'get back to' we all miss so much. Our goal is to help the Black community get the facts, despite their inherent distrust in the government and medical community, and help them make an informed decision about COVID-19 vaccines" said Kelli Richardson Lawson, CEO, JOY Collective.

(View a video here.)

Additionally, the initiative has partnered with JOY Collective and CIEN+ to collaborate with a wide range of organizations to inform the development and distribution of culturally resonant content for Black and Hispanic audiences, who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and have lower vaccine confidence. Providing valuable tools and resources, events, and point-of-care and point-of-purchase educational materials for communities of color, these partners include the Black Coalition Against COVID-19 (BCAC), NAACP, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, National Hispanic Medical Association, National Medical Association, National Urban League, UnidosUS, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) and others.

To kick off the initiative, the Ad Council partnered with the NAACP to host UNMASKED: A COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall Series on February 25 where leading policy makers, researchers and medical experts shared the latest on the coronavirus pandemic, treatments, and vaccine education. ABC News Senior National Affairs Correspondent Deborah Roberts moderated the program, which featured NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, Dr. Cameron Webb (member of the Biden Advisory Board for Coronavirus), Dr. Reed Tuckson (Founding Member and CEO of the Black Coalition Against COVID-19), and Dr. Chris Pernell  (Public Health physician).

In collaboration with Values Partnerships, the initiative has also developed a comprehensive strategy to engage the faith community and has established a National Faith Steering Committee to inform efforts, participate in campaign content and events, and help disseminate educational resources. This committee includes major national faith-based organizations and over 20 highly influential faith leaders across the Black and Hispanic faith communities, including the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, Bishop T. D. Jakes, Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Rev. Dr. Gabriel & Rev. Jeanette Salguero, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Rev. Enid Almanzar, Rev. John K. Jenkins, Rev. Traci Blackmon, Rev. Dr. Walter Kim and more.

The initiative includes a PSA developed by JOY Collective and Values Partnerships and a national vaccine education event, specially developed for the Black and Hispanic faith communities, which will be on March 9 at 7pm ET. The event will feature Bishop T. D. Jakes and other steering committee members in addition to medical experts and other special guests.  In addition, the Ad Council is also collaborating with Choose Health Life (CHL) – a sustainable, scalable and transferable approach to address public health disparities in the Black Community centered around the Black church.

"COVID-19 is one of the most significant challenges we have faced as a faith community, but there is hope," said Bishop T.D. Jakes. "We have vaccines that are effective and we have an across-the-board commitment in the faith community to ensure that all Americans are informed with accurate up to date information that will assist in the critical decisions that insure healthy outcomes. I am pleased to partner with the Ad Council and fellow clergy in this effort and am optimistic about what God is doing through the medical community and what he will do through this campaign."

(View a video here.)

Leading brands, media companies and social platforms and services are developing custom content and donating media to extend the "It's Up To You" message, connecting their audiences with crucial and vetted information about the COVID-19 vaccines. Partners include:

  • Adobe will work with their diverse and extensive creator community as a Founding Partner to commission artwork for the "It's Up to You" campaign to connect with underrepresented groups.
  • Apple is a Founding Partner of the COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative. As part of its commitment to health, Apple will help the Ad Council keep customers informed about the benefits of the vaccine through its services, including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple News, and more.
  • BET is supporting the effort by creating a BET News COVID-19 special and leveraging its platforms to promote and live stream the initiative's event with NAACP, UNMASKED: A COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall.
  • BIN: Black Information Network is launching "It's Up To You" Vaccine Education Week and will provide a week of dedicated programming designed to spark meaningful conversation fueled by trusted news and information within Black communities.
  • Complex Networks will be developing custom content for Ad Council's "It's Up To You" COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative which will reach Complex Networks' 70 million+ (monthly) multicultural audience who share a passion for what's now and next in music, sneakers, style, pop culture, and beyond. They will also be donating media to support these assets across Complex Networks' properties.
  • Disney will leverage resources across a variety of its platforms (ABC, ESPN, Freeform, FX, Hulu, National Geographic) to support "It's Up To You" PSAs.
  • Facebook is donating production for an in-market messaging campaign with a suite of creative assets that will run across Facebook and Instagram and provide donated media throughout the campaign. Additionally, a Founding Partner of the Ad Council's COVID-19 vaccine education initiative, this support is part of Facebook's commitment to running a worldwide campaign to promote authoritative COVID-19 vaccine information.
  • FOX will leverage top-tier talent to create a series of "It's Up To You" PSAs and donate media inventory across its stable of entertainment, sports and news platforms.
  • Google/YouTube, in addition to being a Founding Partner, is integrating the Ad Council's vaccine campaign into their larger "Get the Facts" COVID-19 vaccine marketing efforts. Google/YouTube is also making concerted efforts to support the Ad Council's industry movement, providing advertisers with bespoke support, insights & resources to scale their message using Google and YouTube platforms and tools.
  • Holler is producing "It's Up To You" content to run in donated conversational media.
  • IBM Watson Advertising is contributing its AI creative technology, Accelerator, to provide research insights, creating digital banner content for this testing and donating media across its weather.com and The Weather Channel app properties.
  • iHeartMedia is providing the campaign's official suite of English and Spanish audio assets that will be made available for other audio companies to use across their platforms beginning today. Through audio, the iHeart-created PSAs vividly bring to life the "It's Up To You" campaign and encourage the public to get the facts to make an informed decision about the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • LinkedIn is advising the Ad Council on creative and media targeting strategies for COVID-19 vaccine ads to help companies reach the right audiences with the information needed to have informed discussions about the vaccines. LinkedIn is also providing significant donated media to support the "It's Up to You" campaign.
  • NBCUniversal and Telemundo are creating custom video and banner assets in both English and Spanish for support across the NBCUniversal ecosystem, also made available to other networks. NBCUniversal is also a Founding Partner of the Ad Council's COVID-19 vaccine education initiative.
  • Outcome Health is partnering with the initiative by creating educational content about the COVID-19 vaccines for vaccine hesitant groups, including Black and Hispanic communities, in addition to significant donated media through its point of care locations, the largest such network in the U.S.
  • Pandora's in-house creative consultancy, Studio Resonate, is creating custom audio ads to run within donated media inventory across Pandora, SiriusXM and SoundCloud.
  • Pinterest is supplementing historic Ad Council support with significant donated media for the organization's "It's Up To You" campaign, as well as continuing to collaborate with the initiative to inspire COVID-19 vaccine education and confidence by providing access to trusted expert content on the platform.
  • Salesforce is a Founding Partner of the Ad Council's COVID-19 vaccine education initiative and is supporting the campaign with a live segment on its "Leading Through Change" series, airing March 4, 2021 at 10am PT.
  • Sesame Workshop will develop custom PSAs in English and Spanish for grownups and families, featuring their iconic characters.
  • Snapchat has committed to supporting "It's Up To You" through the creation of custom AR content and providing donated media.
  • Spotify will produce custom audio PSAs and messaging points for podcast host reads to promote COVID-19 vaccine awareness and education, distributed across donated media on its free tier and integrated into podcasts on its platform.
  • TikTok is donating prominent In-Feed advertising space dedicated to the "It's Up to You" campaign. TikTok is committed to amplifying critical public health information and will support the campaign with engaging content featuring TikTok creators and integrate the "It's Up To You" program in their in-app COVID-19 information hub.
  • Twitter is developing a custom hash-emoji on behalf of the campaign and will also host and spotlight a live Q&A on their platform, featuring a medical expert to address the top COVID-19 vaccine questions facing their users.
  • Twitch will produce a custom video PSA to promote COVID-19 vaccine awareness and education, distributing the video via donated media across the live streaming service.
  • Unilever - maker of brands like Dove, Hellmann's and Suave - will support the Ad Council initiative as a Founding Partner by integrating it into their annual Day of Service and amplify with paid and earned media, retail tie-ins and a broader employee and Unilever partner program.
  • Verizon is a Founding Partner, the first to sign on as a supporter of the initiative, and is developing a digital campaign extension of "It's Up To You," which will launch 2/25 and focus on inviting other brands to join in and support the effort.
  • ViacomCBS, creators of the #AloneTogether campaign with the Ad Council which has delivered critical COVID-19 safety information since March, will support as a Founding Partner by running PSAs across its broadcast, cable and streaming platforms and produce custom video and social assets tailored for their unique audiences.
  • Walmart is a Founding Partner of the COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative and will provide further support for the "It's Up To You" campaign by donating media across TV Walls, organic social, and display ads.
  • WarnerMedia is co-creating PSAs with their in-house 10th Street Production Company featuring Daveed Diggs, Sanjay Gupta, and Rosie Perez. The assets will be supported across the WarnerMedia and AT&T video ecosystem and made available to other media properties as well.

"When the marketing and media communities come together and amplify urgent public health messages, we can be an incredible force for good," said Linda Yaccarino, Board Chair of the Ad Council and Chairman, Global Advertising and Partnerships of NBCUniversal. "The Ad Council has been leading the charge to make sure everyone in America has the latest and most accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccines. Every major media company and platform recognizes the importance of this effort and through the media community's support, we'll be able to reach Americans with the information they need from the sources they trust."

All "It's Up To You" campaign efforts drive audiences to GetVaccineAnswers.org (DeTiDepende.org in Spanish) for answers to the top questions Americans have about the COVID-19 vaccines. Vetted by experts at CDC, HHS and COVID Collaborative, content on the website is available in seven languages (English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Russian, Haitian Creole, and Vietnamese) and serves as an information hub to help consumers make an informed decision for themselves and their families about COVID-19 vaccines. Resources at GetVaccineAnswers.org will be continually updated as new information and data becomes available.

"Americans always rise to the challenge in times of crisis. The COVID Collaborative has brought together top experts, leaders and institutions in health, education and the economy and associations representing the diversity of the country to engage Americans in their own recovery," said John Bridgeland, Co-Founder and CEO of the COVID Collaborative. "We are thrilled to partner with the Ad Council on this critical campaign and so many extraordinary institutions to help save lives and put America on a path to recovery and renewal."

The Ad Council and COVID Collaborative have undertaken comprehensive and ongoing research to understand audience mindsets and how to effectively message to build vaccine confidence. This included consulting with a deep network of experts in public health, health communications and marketing, as well as qualitative and quantitative research conducted in partnership with Ahzul, Facebook, Feedback Loop, IBM Watson Advertising, Ipsos Public Affairs and Nielsen. Insights from this research is fueling the initiative's creative, media, digital, and partnership strategies, including the development of the "It's Up To You" platform. Dentsu Health, dentsu Americas' integrated health practice, worked pro bono to develop consumer insights and the national media strategy, informing creative development and providing a comprehensive placement framework for the creative assets.

To date, the initiative has raised over $52 million for a national communications effort to increase confidence in vaccination against the COVID-19 virus. Leading contributors to date include Amazon, Apple, Bank of America, Cisco, CVS Health, Facebook, General Motors, Google and YouTube, the Humana Foundation, NBCUniversal/Comcast, Salesforce, Verizon, Walgreens and Walmart. Significant contributions have also been provided by Adobe, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, BNY Mellon, Business Roundtable, Citi, Ford Motor Company, JPMorgan Chase, the New York Life Foundation, Stanley Black & Decker, Synchrony, Target, Unilever, Wells Fargo and ViacomCBS.

Major industry trade associations including the ANA's Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM), American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's), Association of National Advertisers (ANA), Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), Mobile Media Association (MMA), National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), NCTA – The Internet and Television Association, News Media Alliance (NMA), Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA), Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) and Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) are supporting the initiative by engaging their members, representing leading corporate brands, marketers, TV stations, radio, and digital media throughout the country, to continue educating the public with critical information from "It's Up To You."

One of the initial efforts of this initiative was the launch of informational videos to address healthcare professionals' questions about COVID-19 vaccination, featuring Dr. Anthony Fauci and other representatives from leading healthcare organizations. Since the pandemic was declared in March 2020, the Ad Council has mobilized the industry to launch an unprecedented, multi-pronged communications effort to combat COVID-19. To date, the Ad Council's COVID-19 efforts have resulted in over 47 billion impressions, $445 million in donated media value, and nearly 33 million visits to Coronavirus.gov.

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