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From the 7th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

Don’t Skip Vaccines

Finalist in PSA


The pandemic caused all of us to skip things – vacations, restaurants, movies — but even important things were being missed, like doctor well visits and getting recommended vaccines. Demand for certain vaccines plummeted as much as 95%, with 40% of parents of preteens and young children saying they missed vaccines because of COVID-19-related fears in doctors’ offices, leading to a 26% drop in childhood vaccinations and approximately 9 million missed doses. Even 75% of adults reported missing one or more recommended vaccines despite their benefits.  

When Merck tasked Ogilvy with helping to shift these numbers, we defined three objectives: 

While this was a truly important message, we knew celebrity talent would fast-track the conversation to national media and who better to represent this initiative than the Union-Wade family? Topping the charts of our research on authenticity and relevance, their family dynamic made them a clear fit for this project – Gabrielle, Dwyane, Zaya and Kaavia joined nonprofit organization Vaccinate Your Family (VYF) and Merck to talk about one of the best ways to protect our families — regular doctor visits and staying up to date with recommended vaccines. 

Strategy and Execution

Research told us that most adults felt doctors’ offices were risky places, despite efforts to the contrary. Exhausted and frustrated by the pandemic, they were unapologetically skipping their usual routines just to make it through the day – bedtime routines, screen time – even pants. Parents and older adults needed a little empathy and grace; permission to skip those routines, but they also needed a reminder of the things that we really shouldn’t skip. So, we set out to ensure that we motivated them, especially parents, to stay up to date with their kids’ well-visits and recommended vaccinations, assuring them that doctors are taking measures to keep their offices as safe as possible. 

In partnering with the lovable Union-Wade family, we were able to infuse personality and humor into our message, their relatable energy helping to encourage families to schedule their kids’ well visits and get caught up on recommended vaccinations.  

We developed 3 key Public Service Announcements: One catered to parents of preteens, one to parents of children under 5, and one to adults themselves. Our creative was lighthearted, playing into channel-specific skip functionalities to add humor and stopping power, and distribution was seasonally timed to vaccination decision making (back to school, flu season). TV spots empathized with parental moments like skipping normal bedtimes. Radio spots played on channel surfing habits and skipping kids’ annoying songs, while the adult version skipped robo calls. Digital spots played off YouTube’s skip button, providing a comedic pay-off if viewers watched the full videos. 

In an omnichannel plan, the content was broadcasted across TV, radio, online video and social media placements, and bolstered by news releases, national media relations and policy content to help government offices and advocacy groups understand the urgency of return to care.  

Beyond owned content, which was shared and promoted by both Merck and Vaccinate Your Family, we developed special personalized supporting content from Gabrielle and Dwyane which was posted organically to their channels and in some cases whitelisted to ensure a qualified reach of our audience. These content pieces needed to be authentic to the Union-Wades, so by initiating a deep dive of their existing content, we developed concepts leveraging common content series they posted naturally and by involving them in the creation of the assets, we delivered engaging, humorous, real content, sparking conversations and bringing more awareness to our message. For an end-to-end experience, a microsite was created to reinforce PSA messaging, house PSA assets, and other important information for parents via  


Don’t Skip achieved more than 1.3B impressions across the PSAs, earned media and social (87M+), performing at or above industry benchmarks across efforts. 

Performance Highlights: 


Video for Don’t Skip Vaccines

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Ogilvy Health, Merck & Co., Inc.


Entry Credits