Over the last few months, social media campaigns, government-issued incentives and even celebrity Instagram posts have all implored those eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Wilmore Funeral Home, apparently, would really rather you did not get inoculated — it’s bad for business. In fact, the company has gone so far to protect its interests that it has created billboards instructing people not to get the vaccine.
OK, here's what's really going on. There is no real Wilmore Funeral Home begging people not to take the shot. Instead, the ads around Charlotte, N.C., are part of a clever campaign from ad agency BooneOakley to promote vaccinations. The agency partnered with StarMed Healthcare, which provides vaccinations as well as COVID-19 testing, in order to help spread awareness about the importance of vaccination.
Claire Oakley, the director of client services at the agency, called the campaign a passion project, built out of BooneOakley’s belief in vaccinations as a way out of the pandemic.
“We just felt that everything promoting the vaccine is very straightforward, you know — ‘Get vaccinated, get the shot.’ It doesn’t seem to be working,” she explains to Yahoo Life. “We are all about disrupting the marketplace, that’s our specialty. We started talking about, well, what’s the other perspective on this? Who is benefiting from people not getting vaccinated? As morbid as this is, the reality is funeral homes are benefiting because a lot of unvaccinated people are dying. The facts are there. We’re not making it up.”
— d (@yourgeniushands) September 19, 2021
If you go to WilmoreFuneralHome.com, as it instructs you to do on the ad, it reads “Get vaccinated now. If not, see you soon.” The link then takes you to the StarMed website. Though the company came up with the campaign independently, StarMed, Oakley explains, was an obvious partner. Many employees at BooneOakley, all of whom are vaccinated, went through StarMed for their shots.
“When people go to StarMed’s site, they can read everything they need to know about the vaccines,” she says. “It is FDA approved. It could save your life. Even if you get COVID and don’t die, you could be spreading it. This pandemic will be endless unless people protect themselves.”
The campaign seems to be working. Oakley says that StarMed has seen a 22 percent increase in appointments this week. The experience has been “rewarding,” she says — and has made the company think of potential future campaigns in the space.
“Overall, people have reacted really positively,” she notes. “Of course, there are always going to be certain people, like anti-vaxxers, who don’t appreciate it, or people who think it’s too provocative or upsetting. But so many people have reached out to us, especially from the medical community, to say, ‘I’m on the frontlines. I’m exhausted. Thank you so much for helping us.’ ”