Ad Council Webby Awards

The message for our overarching campaign “It’s Up To You” was simple but the strategy was complex. With one objective to address the segment of the market that was vaccine hesitant, about 40% of the American population, our message had to resound with people in a way that allowed them to be heard and provided assurances that it was ok to have questions about the vaccine. So, we created one overarching platform that included dozens of targeted campaigns in order to reach very targeted segments including Blacks, Latin, rural, Evangelical and young adults with a message about making choices based on fact in a way that was not judgmental.
Best Cause Related Campaign in Advertising
"It's Up To You" was a strategic response to creating a thoughtful, empathetic, broad-reaching and, simultaneously very concentrated campaign that was necessary to encourage Americans who were skeptical about getting vaccinated to understand more about it. But this was not simply a call to action to get the shot. It was a call to action to save American lives. “It's Up To You” has worked because it was able to convey that getting vaccinated, like any health-related decision, is a personal choice. But simultaneously, the overarching platform and related campaigns, encouraged people to get vaccinated because the facts showed it was the most effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19. We were able to reach the skeptics with authenticity and credibility, assuring them that it's ok to have questions, and that has the answers to help them make a sound decision. The simple message was executed through dozens of campaigns, and all creative was continually updated based on news developments and evolving hesitancy rates among specific communities. We did this through promotion on air (broadcast, radio, online) and on the ground with a deeply-entrenched civic outreach program in which trusted local leaders help spread our message in their communities. The sheer magnitude of partners (300), pieces of content (more than 1,000), target audiences (more than a dozen), coupled with a blazing fast turnaround time amid daily-changing while lives were at stake makes "It's Up To You" the Ad Council's biggest and most important education initiative in its history.
Best Cause Related Campaign in PR
The Ad Council is wired for crisis and have responded to major social, economic, cultural and health challenges of the past eight decades, from WWII to race riots, from 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina. When things get tough, the industry turns to the Ad Council to volunteer their services, talents and resources. We know how to leverage the good will and abilities of others to truly create exponential impact. In the world of public education, the responsibility to educate Americans who were hesitant about the vaccine in a way that could unite rather than divide them was a responsibility we knew we could handle with the help from our partners. When the vaccinations to combat Covid-19 became imminent, the team needed to harness the institutional knowledge of all of its previous work and embrace an unprecedented approach that could work across geographic, generational, political, racial and economic lines in order to help reduce vaccination hesitancy, which as of June, was as high as 26.7% in some parts of the U.S. Superb project management, thoughtful creative execution, strategic use of partnerships + a wide-ranging effective media strategy have made "It's Up To You" one of the most influential factors in our nation to reduce vaccination hesitancy. The initiative spoke for itself with 52 billion (yes, billion) earned media impressions.
Best Media Strategy
In order to reach our audience wherever they were, our launch was national in scope, with specific creative targeting Black community, Hispanic/Latinx, rural audiences, young adults, parents, and a broader general market audience. While our model remains centered around donated media, in partnership with our publishing partners and agencies, we were able to evolve the donated media model to include augmentation with publisher blind paid programmatic for “It’s Up To You.” How did we do it? With funding from partners, we ensured that we had scale against specific geographic and demographic pockets of vaccine hesitancy. Of the $230MM in donated and earned media to date, 14% went towards our programmatic efforts. Once the vaccines became widely available, the foundation of our programmatic strategy shifted to focus on addressing pockets of vaccine hesitancy based on county level vaccination rates provided by the CDC. This data allowed us to identify and map low, medium, and high priority geographic areas over time, heaving up relevant messaging in key markets during critical moments, such as soaring case rates and delta variant outbreaks. The creative optimizations were robust in scope and became increasingly more important as we attempted to reach a growingly hesitant audience. Connected TV became a primary way to ensure these audiences were receiving our messages in highly viewable and non-skippable formats, and a native strategy was implemented to promote national and local news articles highlighting the benefits of the vaccine and fact-based content. A dynamic creative test was deployed at a state level to help raise awareness of the rise of the delta variant and the impact this was having at a state level, while simultaneously creative testing multiple messages, backgrounds and CTAs. All of this helped us identify a variety of addressable and contextual audience types based on age, gender, race/ethnicity, custom vaccine hesitant segments, parents, and those consuming news and health related content. The the COVID-19 vaccine campaign was founded on the principle that it was critical to serve the right message to the right communities at the right time, in a way that would resonate with them to get the facts so they could make an informed decision.