From Misinformation to Empowerment: How One Campaign Used Humor and Mariachi Music to Drive Behavior Change
By Jennifer M. Gonzalez
- Creating campaigns specifically for multicultural audiences is crucial to increase receptivity, intention, and action toward the desired behavior change.
- Conducting research among the target audience to understand their attitudes, beliefs, and motivators is fundamental to develop effective multicultural campaigns.
- Addressing misinformation with relevant facts infused with cultural DNA is a good strategy to reach culturally diverse audiences.
- When working with Hispanic audiences, using humor as a cultural element can improve their consideration of serious messages.
As the lead for multicultural strategy at communications agency C+C, I had the privilege of working on the “Verdades del COVID” campaign for the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among the state’s Hispanic community.
To develop an effective campaign, we conducted research among the state’s Hispanic community to gain key insights into their perceptions, challenges, and motivators around the COVID-19 vaccine. Our research uncovered that misinformation about vaccine safety and efficacy was prevalent among the community, and there was high mistrust of the government’s information about the vaccine. Protecting themselves, their loved ones, and their community was the main motivation for getting vaccinated. Community members wanted messaging that was specific, believable, and culturally relevant. These insights informed the campaign’s strategy.
The “Verdades del COVID” campaign tackled common vaccine misconceptions with simple facts presented in a humorous way to empower Hispanics to choose to get vaccinated at a time when they were experiencing pandemic messaging exhaustion. The creative concept was based on the insight that we all have a little voice inside our heads telling us what to do and not to do. The concept uses humor—a cultural element that plays an important role as part of the Latino identity—to allow audiences to laugh while considering a serious topic.
All the campaign assets were developed by Latino creatives and featured mariachi music representing the “voice of conscience” that shows up unexpectedly to remind audiences to listen to science—and not to lies or mentiras—when making vaccine decisions. Driving the message through humor helped build receptiveness among the Hispanic community. The campaign included a video in Spanish with English subtitles, radio ads, print ads for community newspapers, and digital and social media content. A bilingual website was also created to address misinformation and offer downloadable resources.
The “Verdades del COVID” campaign increased Hispanic vaccination rates by 22 percentage points and closed the vaccination gap by 14.1%. While the DOH had been distributing varied COVID-19 and vaccine messages in Spanish (and 40 other languages) since the beginning of the pandemic to diverse communities across the state, the vaccination gap between the state’s Hispanic population and other groups indicated the need for a targeted campaign. The campaign’s success illustrates the importance of creating campaigns that take into account the attitudes, beliefs, and motivators of multicultural audiences to create culturally relevant messaging that can break through the clutter of misinformation and disinformation and generate behavior change.
Jennifer M. Gonzalez is Senior Vice President of Multicultural Strategy at C+C, a communications, marketing, and PR agency with offices in Seattle, Portland, and Boston.