In Spring 2021, the City of Toronto received ample supply of the COVID-19 vaccines, but found its paid media campaign was not getting enough Torontonians vaccinated. City Councillor and Chair of the Board of Health Joe Cressy saw a parallel with an election campaign that had an air war, but no ground war. Cressy asked us to design a direct contact campaign that aimed to ‘get out the vaccine’, akin to ‘get out the vote’. As a political specialist and engagement firm, we partnered with Point Blank, a digital and creative agency to adapt our political tools and strategies to the task at hand: directly contact as many Torontonians as possible, convince them to get vaccinated, while making it easier for them in the new VaxTO campaign.
This campaign’s goal was to combat vaccine hesitancy with culturally-appropriate ads, outreach and educational tools and help the City achieve a 70% vaccination rate for areas identified in the city’s “Sprint Strategy”; these neighbourhoods were determined to be at greater risk of contracting Delta, and, due to a variety of intersecting and systemic factors, are composed overwhelmingly of racialized, newcomer, and religious minority communities. Consequently, the VaxTO campaign was designed to address adults across a wide age range in 15 languages: English, French, Bengali, Cantonese, Farsi, Hindi, Italian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Urdu, and Vietnamese.
Using the Point Blank’s methods for reaching the hardest to reach constituents with highly targeted digital advertising, and our direct citizen contact tools, VaxTO informed citizens getting first and second doses about location, booking details and reminders. It also facilitated follow-up for missed appointments and let others know when their next dose was available sooner.
We utilized several interconnected communications tools. Telephone Town Halls (TTHs) were held in languages to reach target communities with lower vaccination rates. Interactive Broadcast Voice Messages (IBVMs) disseminated multilingual messages recorded by notable public figures. Our live agents followed up with citizens one-on-one to answer questions via phone. Interactive texting was a “one-stop-shop” for information. Through these channels, the public had the opportunity to directly book appointments through the multilingual call centre.
To date, the campaign saw:
- 20,000,000+ ad impressions and 100,000+ click-throughs to toronto.ca/covid19 or a translated landing page about Toronto’s vaccination program in one of 15 languages
- 1,000,000+ people contacted via voicemail broadcast
- Approximately 150,000 Telephone Town Hall attendees
- 40,000+ live phone conversations
- 16,500 Torontonians connected directly to the provincial booking line on the first interactive voice message alone.
Our work on VaxTO points to our capacity to communicate vital information efficiently and effectively. In fact, together with Point Blank, we contributed to the planning and promotion of the Toronto Vaccine Day Clinic at Scotiabank Arena, which set the world record for most vaccinations in one day. Additionally, due to its early success, the city shifted its goal vaccination rate from 70% to 90% in the same timeframe. Due to its successes, the City of Toronto renewed the campaign for another phase in winter 2022, tailored to the ever-evolving situation.