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Bumping Boosters in the United States

A Black female healthcare worker puts a band-aid on a young white man's arm. Both are wearing blue surgical facemasks.

Photo credit: CDC / Robin Spratling

Photo credit: CDC / Robin Spratling

During the summer of 2022, CARE launched a series of video and static ads that encouraged people to get their COVID-19 booster shots and promoted the safety and importance of the vaccine.

Since 2021, CARE USA has run a number of social media campaigns that attempt to shift attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors related to COVID-19 vaccination. Testing ad series that featured personal stories, trusted messengers, and even faith leaders, CARE has explored several themes and communications strategies to encourage positive health behaviors. 

During the summer of 2022, CARE USA was part of a global campaign series promoting COVID-19 preventive practices and vaccine confidence. From July 5 to August 2, CARE launched a series of video and static ads that encouraged people to get their COVID-19 booster shots. The goal was to promote the safety and importance of the vaccine – particularly among older Americans for whom the booster is most critical. 

TL;DR summary

  • Designing thumb-stopping and memorable creatives can drive people to take actions for health
  • CARE was able to reproduce conversion rate similar to past campaigns, with this ad series generating 13,067 clicks to VaccineFinder.org (a website where enables people to book COVID vaccine appointments)
  • Whether it was vaccine-fatigue or a creative strategy that didn’t sway our audience, this campaign did not see the expected lift in people’s perception of vaccine importance or safety


CARE USA’s summer campaign tested two main creative styles. The first used previously designed high-performing testimonials featuring CARE staff members sharing their experience and reasons for getting vaccinated.

The second style employed graphic ads that spoofed commercial ads popularized in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s to “thumb stop” Gen X and Boomer feed scrollers. The aim was to grab people’s attention with a bright, familiar, and nostalgic graphic to engage in health messaging.

Both static and video versions of the ads were run to test what form of creative would be most influential.


Top Performing Ads

Ads that drew on CARE staff testimonials continued to be the top creative performers, with the long video format being the most engaging.

Following not too far behind as strong secondary performers were the “Where’s the Boost?” graphic with the Grandma (most watched), Keep on Boostin’ (most shared), and Groovy Gal (highest conversion rate).

As has become a standard practice with CARE’s experimentation with SBCC campaigns on social media, CARE conducted a post-campaign brand lift study to test the campaign’s efficacy in addressing our goals and changing attitudes toward the vaccine. Once the ads stopped running, both the control group and those who experienced the campaign were asked:

  1. Ad Recall: Do you recall seeing an ad for COVID vaccines from CARE USA online or on a mobile device in the past 2 days?
  2. Safety: How safe do you think a COVID-19 vaccine is for people like you?
  3. Importance: How important do you think a vaccine is to protect against COVID-19?

The ad series leveraged ad credits donated by Meta and reached 89.6 million people. As a result:

  • CARE’s ads had an engagement rate of 28% and the clickthrough rate of 0.31% was well above last year’s average of 0.20%. CARE noted a slightly higher CTR of 0.33% in key target states that have the lowest vaccination rates (South Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, and North Carolina).
  • CARE’s ads generated 13,067 clicks to VaccineFinder.org, showing a conversion rate of 2.8% which is in line with performance stats from our earlier campaigns.
  • In ad series performance results, CARE saw significant levels of ad recall among older Americans, with a 14.6-point lift among men over 65 and 5.6-point lift for men aged 55-64.
  • Despite the strong level of ad recall, this campaign was not able to meet the performance target of achieving a 3-point lift in perception of the vaccine’s safety and importance.

It’s hard to say why CARE USA’s campaign didn’t see more lift in vaccine safety and importance. The creative was memorable, but perhaps the novelty of the ads distracted from the message. Perhaps Americans, traveling en masse for the first time since the pandemic started, had COVID-19 vaccine fatigue and/or a desire to live life without worrying about COVID. It’s difficult to say for sure why the ads weren’t effective.

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