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From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

KS COVID Initiative, "Old-Schooled" Campaign

Finalist in Humor

Gold Honor in Government & Politics, Call to Action

Silver Honor in PSA

Entered in Social Good Campaign


COVID-19 rates across the country exploded last fall and the State of Kansas needed to deliver a critical message telling all Kansans to get tested to help stop the spread of the pandemic.

By this time, COVID messaging fatigue had set in, especially among people in their 20s and 30s — the audience responsible for some of the highest transmission rates. 

In order to curb the soaring numbers of COVID across Kansas, we needed to break through to this audience and get them to not only take responsibility, but also take the FREE COVID tests being provided by the state. 

We set out to double the number of Kansans tested and reach our primary goal of 1 million tested by the end of 2020.

With the secondary goal of reminding all Kansans of the importance of following COVID safety protocols, including social distancing and wearing a mask in public.  

Strategy and Execution

In their youth, Millennial and Gen Z audiences often feel invincible. When it came to the virus, many weren’t personally affected and didn’t understand the negative impact their behavior could have on the more vulnerable. They had heard countless COVID safety messages, but were deaf to them. 

They were simply over it.  So another direct message, or even a heartfelt plea, from the state government wasn’t going to cut it.  

It was time to deliver the message in a way they couldn’t miss, and one that would inspire action.

To do this, we developed a campaign that tapped some of our most vulnerable Kansans, who also happened to be amongst the most fired up about the pandemic — those who had earned the right to go full no filter. 

In “Old-Schooled,” elder Kansans colorfully, humorously and in a brutally-honest way, took their neighbors “to school” in order to convince them to take a FREE COVID-19 test. And, while this is a very serious issue, the campaign aimed to cut through and spark action with humor.

We placed tough-talking seniors within Millennial and Gen Z social feeds — a place they're not normally invited — making them impossible to ignore.

Speaking to younger Kansans in a tone they would appreciate acoss Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, the campaign utilized everything from :15 videos to pre-roll. 

We had to reframe the assumptions around testing, from something that was only reserved for those who are symptomatic to something now readily available for everyone, while also removing the barrier of costs.

But potentially the hardest hurdle to overcome, outside of getting Millennials and Gen Z to get tested and follow safety protocols, was overcoming the politics. COVID had become a hot-button political issue in the Midwest and the campaign had to find a way to rise above it — to inspire everyone on both sides to do what's right for each other. 

Even if it meant we had to Old-School a few million people.


The “Old-Schooled” campaign launched in December 2020. At that time, only 500,000 Kansans had been tested. Within three weeks of launch, we doubled that number and then some — exceeding our goal of 1 million tested. 

The campaign resulted in 5,249,885 earned media impressions, 1,886,706 unique page views for, and 1,024,129 Kansans tested.


Video for KS COVID Initiative, "Old-Schooled" Campaign

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Barkley, State of Kansas

Entry Credits