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CARE Iraq Leads COVID-19 Vaccination Campaigning

A man and woman, each wearing a face mask and a khaki CARE vest, demonstrate safe hygiene practices.

CARE's Building Resilient Livelihoods for Conflict Affected Communities, located in the Sinjar District in Iraq, pivoted to include COVID-19 interventions like public health messaging. Photo credit: Sound Pro/CARE

CARE's Building Resilient Livelihoods for Conflict Affected Communities, located in the Sinjar District in Iraq, pivoted to include COVID-19 interventions like public health messaging. Photo credit: Sound Pro/CARE

CARE Iraq is one of several CARE country offices that have gained skills in designing, launching, and learning from social and behavioral change communications (SBCC) campaigns that promote positive health practices.

Since they began testing in 2021, CARE Iraq has learned many best practices that drive change using social media, from connecting with people’s values to reinforcing social norms.

From June 13 to July 18 in 2022, CARE Iraq and 15 other countries ran online ad campaigns promoting COVID-19 preventive practices and messaging designed to boost COVID-19 vaccine and booster confidence. Iraq had been struggling with low vaccination rates across the country, with NPR reporting that in February 2022, only 17% of Iraqis had been fully vaccinated. As of May 2022, a cumulative 18.3 million vaccine doses had been administered countrywide, with only 182,526 individuals having received their third dose of the vaccine.

CARE Iraq launched a series of video ads that encouraged people to get their COVID-19 vaccines and boosters specifically to continue living a normal life. This campaign supported offline public health programs the CARE Iraq country office conducted, including in-person COVID-19 vaccination awareness sessions and a mobile vaccination unit in Mosul City, Iraq.

TL;DR summary

  • CARE Iraq’s summer campaign delivered exceptional results, likely influencing an additional 314,932 people’s attitude that the COVID-19 vaccine was safe and important.
  • Purposeful design and application of best practices in creative ideation led to 1.6 million people engaging with the campaign’s ads through likes, clicks, shares, and comments.
  • Learnings from past campaigns were replicated as videos featuring real people outperformed motion graphics.

Creative and best practices

CARE Iraq’s campaign consisted of five video ads, each ranging from 20 to 60 seconds and using both real and animated images. Building upon their best practice learnings, which showed that videos featuring real people performed better in both driving engagement and shifting knowledge, attitude, and behavior, four out of the five videos CARE Iraq ran featured real people: a chef, taxi driver, teacher, and doctor. These well-designed ads leveraged messaging best practices from UNICEF’s vaccine messaging guide and delivered some of the strongest results across all country office campaigns.

UNICEF vaccine messaging best practices:

  • Building trust using trusted and relatable messengers
  • Balancing messaging since pro-vaccine messaging can backfire
  • Reminding people why we vaccinate


CARE Iraq’s Communications Officer Huda Ali, who spearheaded campaign design, spoke about the purposeful intent behind the creative messaging. “The most important thing is for people to know that they are not being ordered to do this or being told this is the right way,” she said. Instead, the purpose is for people to see regular members of their community experience a sense of normalcy and safety after having received the vaccine or booster. In other words, using pro social norming was the most approachable and appropriate messaging method in Iraq.

CARE Iraq chose to feature people from different walks of life in their ads since the campaign was “addressing all types of people in different communities.” Being able to see a chef from a well-known restaurant that people have been to or a doctor who people rely on for medical guidance created a sense of relatability and connection.


Top performing ads

Videos that featured real and relatable people continued to be top performers in this campaign, with the video featuring the chef being the most engaging and widely viewed (23 million views). The video with the taxi driver generated a very high clickthrough rate of 0.42%, double the expected platform benchmark of 0.20%.



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A post shared by CARE Iraq (@care_iraq)

To gauge the campaign’s efficacy in changing knowledge, attitudes, and behavior, Meta facilitated a brand lift study where both people exposed and unexposed to the ads were asked:

  1. Ad Recall: Do you recall seeing an ad for COVID vaccines from CARE Iraq online or on a mobile device in the past two 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 15.9 million unique people across Iraq. As a result:

  • CARE Iraq’s ad campaign drew an exceptional level of engagement among viewers. A total of 1.6 million people interacted with the campaign’s social posts through likes, comments, and shares, driving an engagement rate of 10.2%.
  • Engagement skyrocketed further to 442% when including video views as part of engagement metrics. Engagement rates can exceed 100% since this figure is calculated based on reach and an individual could have seen or engaged with a video multiple times.
  • Through its reach of 15.9 million individuals, the campaign likely led 314,932 more people to express their agreement that the covid vaccine and booster are safe and important
  • Men experienced the highest brand lift, with a 4.7-point lift in vaccine safety among men aged 18-24 and a 3.5-point lift in vaccine importance among men aged 25-34. While these lift numbers might seem small at first glance, they translate to a significant number of additional men who now likely believe in the safety and importance of the vaccine.

CARE Iraq’s ad campaign was very successful in driving positive change. “Having that big impact, the positive impact on people, that was when I realized, okay, the hard work paid off. It was really great to see that we are doing something positive through social media, which typically has a bad reputation,” said Ali.

For those experimenting with social media and health behaviors, Ali’s suggestion would be to “put yourself in their position. Think about what you would like to see and go from there. This will be the first step.”

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