GKV was selected by the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) to create and implement a campaign to educate, engage and activate all Marylanders to get vaccinated as part of the public health crisis communications plan to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the face of the worst global pandemic in over a century.
GKV worked closely with MDH and the Governor’s office, 24 local health departments, and Maryland’s hospitals, physicians and pediatricians to educate Marylanders about the importance of receiving the vaccine as soon as they were eligible. Special emphasis was placed on reaching communities that had been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and/or had higher levels of vaccine hesitancy.
The campaign’s success was tied directly to the branded rallying cry created by GKV. The slogan was simple, visually memorable and adaptable: GoVAX, within weeks, was omnipresent across the state. GoVAX messaging encouraged all Marylanders to protect themselves, their families and their communities by getting vaccinated when they became eligible.
The GoVAX campaign incorporated testimonials from over 150 “trusted leaders” anointed as GoVAX Ambassadors, including physicians, first responders, faith and community leaders, sports figures, research scientists, health officers, elected officials and others.
The campaign also featured numerous unique tactics and creative executions designed to reach specific and, in some cases hard-to-reach audiences, such as:
- PSAs using “real” Maryland families talking to other families and “real” Maryland kids talking to other kids demonstrate, on a personal and relatable level, why and how getting vaccinated protects them
- PSAs developed to speak to the disabilities community, including the behavioral disabilities audience
- Street teams deployed to barber shops and hair salons
- Digital ads served to parents checking their kids’ sports and activities schedules
- Cash register receipts at selected retailers adjacent to pharmacies
Over the course of two years, GKV, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Health, created close to 1,200 ads and creative assets, including:
- 158 TV ads
- 98 radio ads
- 90 out-of-home ads
- 769 digital and social ads
- 72 brochures/flyers
- Comprehensive website (updated daily) with multiple campaign landing pages
Using these materials, we served 1.5 billion impressions across both traditional and digital mediums. These efforts contributed to over 11 million sessions to the covidlink website.
- Maryland’s vaccination rate far exceeded the national average in every age and demographic category, with 91.9% of eligible Marylanders getting vaccinated, the sixth most vaccinated state in the country.
- MDH was contacted by the National Governors Association and asked to present about the GoVAX campaign to its membership, stating it was “one of the most effective campaigns in the country.”
- MDH and the Governor’s Office was contacted by the state of Delaware requesting to use the GoVAX “Real Kids” campaign to help motivate parents to vaccinate their children.
- 16% more parents vaccinated their children in Maryland (62%) than the national average (46%), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
- Vaccine hesitancy decreased by 6% in the first four months of the campaign.
- Nearly 3/4 of Maryland residents surveyed reported being aware of the GoVax campaign within the first year of the campaign.
- Participants in focus groups conducted by GKV reported receiving COVID-related news from three primary sources — Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, the covidLINK website and GoVAX television commercials.
- Focus groups and survey participants consistently ranked the Maryland Department of Health, which disseminated information through the GoVAX campaign, as one of their most trusted sources of information, after their own physicians and family friends and relatives.