The Bulletin Board

Expanded contract sought for marketing firm to promote vaccination

By: - August 16, 2021 11:27 am
Closeup of a vaccine vial in a person's hand

Widespread resistance to mandated vaccines led the United Kingdom in 1898 to add a “conscience” objection to its vaccine requirements. (Joe Raedle | Getty Images)

At Wednesday’s Executive Council meeting, the state Department of Health and Human Services will ask to increase its $434,500 contract with a Manchester marketing firm to $1.3 million to continue promoting COVID-19 vaccination through 2022.

Under the expanded contract, GYK Antler will still use social media, radio and television spots, and billboards to try to increase the 61 percent vaccination rate among people eligible for it. It began that work in May under the existing contract, but its promotional content has been challenging to find through internet searches and the state’s media channels. It’s also unclear how GYK Antler and the state are deciding what its promotional content should – and should not – say, something vaccine communication experts say needs constant revising to avoid ineffective and counterproductive messaging that backfires.

Neither DHHS or GYK Antler returned calls for today’s Bulletin story on effective messaging strategies.

According to the expanded contract, GYK Antler will use personal stories from residents and health care providers to try to increase the state’s vaccination rate. Its existing five Facebook ads feature a New England Patriots player (one also includes Gov. Chris Sununu). There is also a video featuring Sununu and state public health officials.

The company will promote the “safety and wide availability” of the vaccine to all age groups but also target specific groups and areas that have lower vaccination rates, including racial and ethnic minorities and people under 40, according to the contract. 

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications.