In mid-December the government started with newspaper advertisements. Since the Christmas holidays there have been radio spots and now there is also a spot on television. The campaign on vaccination against corona is in full swing. Seventy-five percent of the Dutch will get that injection anyway, the latest polls show. A small group of ten percent does not want to. The rest are still in doubt. It is not easy to convince refusers, doubters can fall in both directions. The campaign is aimed at them.
How do you set up a good public campaign to entice people into healthy behavior, such as getting yourself vaccinated? Enny Das, professor of communication and influencing at Radboud University, and Bas van den Putte, professor of health communication at the University of Amsterdam, know how to convince people to make the desired choice. On the basis of previous health campaigns, they list the rules of thumb.
1. Provide arguments for doing or not doing something
Still from a commercial of the National government’s Dranquilo campaign to drink less alcohol.
Dranquilo: a term that comes from the Spanish word ‘tranquilo’ (for ‘take it easy’) and ‘drink’. These government commercials are intended to encourage no or less alcohol consumption. Van den Putte is not wildly enthusiastic about it. In three of the four commercials you do not hear any arguments for leaving alcohol alone. In the exception a football player delivers a good performance and says ‘I was dranquilo yesterday’. This scene makes a link between not drinking and scoring on the football field: that appeals to young athletes. “Giving arguments is necessary if you want to convince people of something,” says Van den Putte. What about the vaccination campaign? There you also hear arguments: you do it to protect yourself, to protect others, and to regain your freedoms. A virus that suddenly kills society as a whole is a new situation for everyone. “That gives extra space to get people in a certain direction with argumentation.”
2. Don’t use one-liners
The National Government’s Bob campaign against driving with alcohol.
‘Dranquilo’ must become a buzzword for it to succeed, Das thinks. That happened in the Bob campaign to discourage drinking in traffic. “Cleverly done. Saying you are ‘the Bob’ is easier than explaining why you don’t drink today. ” Bob has a strong slogan. Whether that will also work for Dranquilo is too early to say, according to Van den Putte. One-liners are not always picked up properly. During the vaccination campaign, the experts even advise against a one-liner completely. Van den Putte: “Normally I think a one-liner is good, but in the case of vaccination against corona I think the government should stay far away from a propaganda-like approach. Stick to factual information. ”
3. Make it as easy as possible
# prevent flu: campaign for the annual flu shot among healthcare workers.
# Prevent Flu is a campaign by professional associations for nurses and carers to encourage healthcare workers to pass the annual flu shot. Based on this poster alone, Badger says she would like to see more incentive to make it easier to get that shot. “If people intend to get injected, they are more likely to go if they receive an invitation with a specific day and time.” Healthcare personnel do not normally receive a call from their GP for the flu shot, sometimes through their employer. At the corona vaccination everyone eventually gets a call-up. Van den Putte: “It helps if people do not have to take action themselves. With an invitation, give the opportunity to change the time yourself. ”
4. Insert the message positively
The general rule of thumb is that a campaign should address the benefits of the desired behavior. That is motivating. An example of a positive campaign is PURE Smoke Free from the national government. Van den Putte: “Puur is a beautiful brand name, it evokes the image that you get a clean body again when you stop smoking. The website behind it contains testimonials in which people explain why they stop and how they do it, which is also motivating. ” The vaccination campaign should also capitalize on the benefits, both experts say. There is a lot to be gained with a shot. Who does not want their freedoms back? Das: “State that we do it for each other and for ourselves.”
You also hear in the commercials that the vaccine is safe and tested on tens of thousands of people, which is also a positive message. “Take doubts about side effects seriously and provide correct information if those doubts are based on misinformation,” says Van den Putte. For example, saying explicitly that it does not make you sterile, a rumor she has heard circulating, would not do Das. That word, “sterility,” can make people think in a certain direction and believe it right.
5. Shocking doesn’t work
“SIRE’s campaign is a good example of the misunderstanding that shock is enough to change people’s behavior,” said Das. “As if they only then feel that they are doing something stupid. It’s not that simple. People shield themselves from bad things. When young people read this they shrug their shoulders and walk on to the fireworks shop. ” SIRE often misses the mark, says Van den Putte. “SIRE is good at showing the seriousness of a problem without providing a solution. What is the alternative? How do you set off fireworks safely? Explain that. ” In the vaccination campaign it is therefore better to leave out nasty images of seriously ill people in the ICU. The focus must be on the solution: getting that shot.
6. Connect with the perception of the target group
More goes wrong in the fireworks campaign. Van den Putte: “Every young person thinks ‘I’m not that stupid, that won’t happen to me’.” You have to get closer to the experiences of young people. A mutilated hand or eyeball does not come close enough. “Work with young people themselves”, suggests Das. “With role models who, for whatever reason, demonstrate exemplary behavior and make better choices. Show that you can be tough by showing safe behavior. ” Things are going well at PUUR Rookvrij, this campaign is closer to the perception of smokers than scary pictures of black lungs on cigarette packs. Das: “PURE shows what it really is like to be a smoker and explains the short-term gain in quitting smoking: you smell more and feel fitter.” The smoker says that health gain is more than the risk of lung cancer over decades. According to Van den Putte, the TV commercial for corona vaccination is suitable for a wide target group. You see young people on the football field, the elderly, people with disabilities who all roll up their sleeves. “There are three perspectives: you do it for yourself, for others, for freedoms. Which argument you feel appealed to differs from person to person. ”
7. Use famous people and influencers
Well-known people and influencers can help to get close to the target group, also in the vaccination campaign. If your idol is vaccinated, you are more likely to do it yourself. “Let well-known athletes set a good example, for example,” says Van den Putte. “For top athletes their body is very important, they don’t take any risks with it.” Well-known athletes are therefore good role models. They are extra careful with their body. If someone like that already takes that injection? Then the security will be fine. “
8. Stimulate the conversation
Soa Aids Nederland’s ‘I’m pretty safe or I’m not free’ campaign was set up because young people found it difficult to start talking about condom use. The target group received concrete tips: how do you start such a conversation? Talk about it before you take your clothes off. Van den Putte is a fan, he says, of getting people to talk to each other. Also with the vaccination campaign. “You have to encourage people who want to get vaccinated to talk about it with doubters. People are more convinced by others around them than by a talking head in a TV commercial. ”
Finally, this. As a government, do you want vaccination to be a free choice? Then it is important to provide people with objective information and to radiate that everyone can consider their own choice. Das: “Do you get the feeling that you are being put under pressure? Then you have a chance that the doubters will get lost in the sand. ”
Watch the television commercial about corona vaccination from the Dutch government below:
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