October 31, 2022
During the peak push for the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021, companies from Krispy Kreme to Budweiser offered free products to customers who displayed proof of vaccination. NBC aired a “Roll Up Your Sleeves” vaccination special with a star-studded cast, including Michelle Obama, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Jennifer Hudson. Sesame Street and CNN also hosted a vaccination special.
Turns out, the HHS conceived of, funded, and executed many similar media campaigns through its COVID-19 Community Corps program, which was designed to promote vaccination using “trusted messengers” from different demographics and communities, according to its website.
Judicial Watch obtained 249 pages of HHS documents on the program in early October through a Freedom of Information Act request. The documents show extensive agency plans for targeted advertising campaigns, including ideas like placing “a trusted messenger on the Joe Rogan Show” and asking Tom Brady to make a pro-vaccination video with his parents.
One document titled “Share the Mic Program Plan” listed five targeted demographics: white conservatives, African Americans, Latinos, young people, and the general market. Different celebrities and influencers were listed to reach each group.
To reach white conservatives, the document suggests featuring NASCAR drivers, sports figures, country music singers, and faith leaders, identifying Franklin Graham, Joyce Meyer, and Joel Osteen.
The same document suggests targeting African Americans through influencers like Rickey Thompson, Tabitha Brown, Jackie Aina, and the Shade Room celebrity gossip Instagram page. For Latinos, it suggests Pero Like, Bad Bunny, Lele Pons, and the Being Latino instagram meme page.
The HHS even had plans to get parents on board. A slideshow titled “Building Parent Confidence in Covid-19 Vaccines” details campaign strategies such as distributing “talking points for preachers and church leadership,” partnering the National Education Association (NEA), and building “school-based incentives for adolescents” like offering extra credit in science class for getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
The slideshow also considered placing vaccination prompts near photo memories on Amazon Prime Photo, iPhoto, and Facebook and partnering with mom influencers.
Another document titled “We Can Do This Engagement Ideas” outlines ideas for corporations and media companies.
For corporations, the document suggested offering discounts to vaccinated customers, placing vaccine messaging on paid advertisements and apparel, and sponsoring competitions or giveaways promoting the vaccine. For media companies, it proposed donating ad space and air time to vaccine content and encouraging talent to produce vaccination specials.
Many ideas contained in HHS documents became reality