- On Sunday, North Carolina residents spotted what appeared to be a funeral-home truck bearing the words, “don’t get vaccinated.”
- It turned out to be an ad agency stunt to promote COVID-19 vaccination in the state.
- In North Carolina, 49% of the vaccine-eligible population has been fully vaccinated.
People walking around near North Carolina’s Bank of America Stadium on Sunday were treated to a strange sight: a funeral home van bearing the words, “don’t get vaccinated.”
Twitter users posted pictures of what appeared to be a large truck bearing an advertisement from the Wilmore Funeral Home.
—d (@yourgeniushands) September 19, 2021
Visiting the website listed on the truck reveals one message: “Get vaccinated now. If not, see you soon.” The only link available on the page leads to StarMed Healthcare, an urgent care center in Charlotte where people can get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The mobile billboard’s message turned out to be an advertising stunt by Boone Oakley, an ad agency in Charlotte that created the ad to drive up vaccination rates in the state. The Wilmore Funeral Home does not exist.
Only 49% of vaccine-eligible people in North Carolina are fully vaccinated, per The New York Times’ COVID-19 vaccine tracker. The state is also recording a steady uptick in COVID-19 infections. As of Monday, North Carolina recorded a seven-day average of 6,194 COVID-19 infections, a 48% increase in daily case numbers as compared to 14 days ago.
Speaking to Newsweek, David Oakley, the agency’s president, said he wanted to push people to get vaccinated.
Oakley added that “almost everyone” at the ad agency got vaccinated at StarMed. To promote the center and their vaccination drive, the agency purchased a mobile billboard from digital outdoor advertising company Crenshaw Visions.
“A lot of pro-vaccine advertising is very straightforward. We thought, ‘Is there a way to turn it around and do it from a different perspective?'” Oakley told Newsweek.
Dr. Arin Piramzadian, StarMed Healthcare’s chief medical officer, told local news outlet Charlotte Observer that StarMed did not pay for any part of the marketing stunt, but expressed his support for it.
“If this saves one person’s life by getting vaccinated, I’m 100% for it,” Piramzadian told the Observer.
“We know that 99% of people who are ending up in the hospital and dying are unvaccinated,” he added. “If that statistic does not scare people, I’m not sure what does. Perhaps a dark humor aspect such as this one does catch someone’s attention.”
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