This is not how you make a stitch
The government’s communication on the Covid vaccination is not entirely comprehensible.
There is, after all, something that unites us across all camps: we all want to put the pandemic behind us and more than one “Freedom Day”. With that in mind, let’s reach out to all 48.3 percent of Austrians who don’t yet have a vaccine booster the next time we put taxpayer money into communications.
Reach around four million unboostered Austrians and convince them of something that many of these very differently driven people have not wanted before. Anyone who delves deeper into the context of this Herculean communicative task has to admit that no TV spot will be able to do that. No matter how creative or clever it may be. Nothing has divided us as a civil society like the vaccination issue for a long time. It has become an attitude issue, a political statement that even divides families. No matter which filter bubble we retreat into, suddenly there is only black and white.
For a few weeks now, the initiative “Österreich impft” (Austria vaccinates) has been countering this with a commercial in which three musketeer-clad people with drawn swords symbolically run against the invisible virus, shouting. “Okay, now you’ve totally convinced me,” was one of the first ironic comments on YouTube. With only just under 18,000 online views for the spot and TV placements after “ZiB2,” they will at least unerringly miss the young target groups. However, the point here is not to evaluate the quality of the TV spot, but rather the government’s communication strategy, which is not entirely comprehensible. With all the insights of the past two years, there are now other options.
What is missing from many attempts to win Austrians over to the third vaccination is strategic thinking about how to pick up hard-to-reach target groups away from the “TV watering can.” As has long been called for, the focus must now be on the small percentage of people who may still be willing to be vaccinated, with their individual concerns and needs. Solutions must be offered that are tailored to the target group. This cannot be solved with a single mass commercial, which is supposed to play the egg-laying willy-willy sow, so to speak.
A strategically well thought-out campaign requires different measures with target group-specific topics. These can be individually targeted, especially in online channels where the respective target groups are at home. Young people, for example, hardly watch linear TV anymore, they are on TikTok, Instagram or Discord and trust influencers, who could be used as testimonals, more than any virologists. Those influenced by vaccination myths, in turn, also consume their particular media. This could be broken down to any target group. But as long as neither the communication strategy is thought through to the end nor the implementation is consistently followed through, the next vaccination campaign will hardly make a dent.
Published in the Wiener Zeitung on 22.02.2022
Photo: Raghavendra Konkathi /Unsplash