Walgreens boosts vaccine confidence with ‘This is Our Shot’ campaign

The pharmacy giant is out with an integrated marketing and communications campaign.

As vaccines become available to all U.S. adults by May 1, Walgreens is getting ready to inoculate. 

The pharmacy chain is out with a new campaign, ‘This is Our Shot,’ an integrated communications and marketing push to boost vaccine confidence and let people know they can get their shot at Walgreens. 

On Sunday, Walgreens will air the first of two 30-second spots voiced by John Legend, who will also represent the campaign on social media and in press interviews. The spots will air on broadcast and cable as well as during NBA programming on ABC and ESPN. 

‘This is Our Shot’ refers to everyone’s opportunity to get back together again by doing their part and getting vaccinated. To emphasize this visually, the spot rewinds on images of the in-person gatherings we all miss most — weddings, graduations, hugging grandparents. 

The spots are the next phase of Walgreens’ ongoing effort to educate and support the public during the pandemic. Last spring, the pharmacy chain kept stores open to ensure people could get their prescriptions, and later deployed pharmacists to nursing homes and long-term care facilities to vaccinate the elderly. 

“This ad campaign coincides with the general population being able to get their vaccines through Walgreens,” said Aaron Radelet, global chief communications officer at Walgreens. “But there are a lot of things we're doing to make sure everybody is aware vaccinations are available and safe.” 

But because general vaccine availability means millions of people will receive their shot at a Walgreens store across the country, “there is a lot more that we're putting into this phase,” Radelet said. 

In addition to the general population, Walgreens is making a concerted effort to reach underserved, vaccine-hesitant communities on the specific media outlets they consume, as well as through partnerships with faith-based organizations and community leaders. 

“We're looking in particular at what media Black, brown, underprivileged and rural communities are watching,” Radelet said. 

Walgreens is also leveraging its social media channels and the newsroom on its website to grow awareness for the campaign, and leveraging micro, mid-tier and macro-influencers, including Legend, to help spread the word. And on April 18, it will run a star-studded variety special on NBC called “Roll Up Your Sleeves,” where celebrities, community members, pharmacists and other influencers will encourage people to vaccinate. 

One of Walgreens’ best influencer networks is its own pharmacists, who are highly trusted by consumers. Walgreens has been featuring pharmacists in vaccine communications and campaigns, recently partnering with the Ad Council on a series of PSAs. 

“We've made sure we have a diverse set of pharmacists that come from different regions and neighborhoods to make sure they represent the communities they are serving,” Radelet said. 

He added: “We're right in the middle of the most important initiative of our careers. To get through this pandemic and know we had a part to play is enormously rewarding.” 

Behind the scenes 

‘This is Our Shot’ is the product of Walgreens consolidating its $600 million marketing and communications account with WPP last year, with the goal of creating “an agnostic approach in terms of which agencies we were working with across the portfolio,” Radelet said. 

“We wanted to have one P&L,” he added. “We didn't want to have the individual shops within WPP competing on the business.” 

That model, in addition to close-knit internal marketing and communications departments, allowed Walgreens to pull an integrated campaign like this off, Radelet said. 

“If you talk to a customer, they will never say, ‘I think this about Walgreens because of their communications or marketing shop,” Radelet said. “They're going to have a collective reputation in their mind that is a result of the various work we do. We need to work backwards from the customer and organize in that way.”

In that spirit, Walgreens now measures all communications and marketing efforts holistically rather than as siloed functions.

“Our brand scores have never been higher as a result of partnering marketing and comms,” Radelet said.

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