Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

Making a global pandemic personal

Mask Up, Spread Hope Not COVID

When COVID-19 hit Michigan in March 2020 we blanketed the state with messages urging Michiganders to “Mask Up” and socially distance for safety. Because our residents are beautifully diverse, we oversampled minority populations and cut market research to identify how different people respond differently to advertising. We camped out at popular retail and recreation spots to observe behaviors, we polled and surveyed, focus group tested, social media monitored and more. The research informed dozens upon dozens of campaigns, broad and niche, determined to protect people and save lives.

Finding empathy, building community to drive herd immunity.

The initial rush to vaccinate in early 2021 tapered off to a pace that threatened to prevent the state from reaching herd immunity. The pandemic had become deeply politicized and as a result, trust was elusive. To hasten consideration, community partners and market research suggested presenting personal stories told by real physicians and neighbors—the few sources vaccine hesitant people trusted. We abandoned scripts and storyboards and hit the streets, asking residents why they chose to get vaccinated.

My Why helps move people from reluctant to vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccination is deeply personal, especially among vaccine reluctant residents. We heard hundreds of stories while scouring the state for footage. We heard from people who lost loved ones to COVID, from those who miss friends and family and those who just want to get back to living a normal life. We could all relate to them on some level. We also talked with physicians on the front lines. They helped us confront worries and myths without filters or editorialization. Most importantly, they helped us closer to herd immunity because we listened to myriad whys. And we heard.