Federal COVID-19 vaccine advertising campaign kicks off

By Melissa Coade

July 12, 2021

‘Arm yourself’ is a new campaign urging Australians to get vaccinated against COVID-19. (Image: Adobe/REDPIXEL)

‘Arm yourself’: a new campaign urging Australians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 has been launched following concerns from public health experts that the existing community messaging was lacklustre.

The new ads feature ordinary people with band aids on their arms (implying they have just received a shot) and will be broadcast on television and radio, with additional exposure for print and billboards and social media in the works.

A voice-over tells viewers, “Now is the time to arm yourself”, “your family”, “your friends”, “your workmates”, “your community” and “someone you love”.

“A COVID-19 vaccine is your best defence and our only way forward,” is the central message.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese told the ABC’s Insiders program that he was unimpressed by the re-imagined advertising campaign — which is a total revamp of an earlier campaign that featured former deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth. The first advertising campaign was squarely criticised for being hard to find and failing to resonate.

“We have been saying for some time that there needed to be a public information campaign, but I’m not sure that this cuts it frankly,” Mr Albanese said.

“We were the best in the world in the campaign against AIDS, we’ve done [campaigns against] drink-driving very well, but after 18 months if this is the best they can do, they need to go back to the drawing board.”

Lieutenant General John Frewen, head of the federal COVID-19 vaccine taskforce, said that over time the campaign would be translated into other languages to reach a wider audience. 

“The Arm Yourself campaign seeks to rally Australians to both arm themselves and to arm their friends, loved ones and communities against COVID-19 through vaccination,” he said.

“The materials will be adapted for culturally diverse groups and for Indigenous communities and they will be translated into many languages, and we will continue to adapt the products as we go through the rollout through this year.”

Another more dramatic ad was broadcast in Sydney at the weekend. The 30 second clip focuses on a young patient in a hospital bed, becoming visibly distressed as she struggles to breathe.

“The ad tonight very graphically depicts the consequences of getting COVID and leaves people in no doubt of the importance of both isolating and getting tested and getting vaccinated,” Frewen said.

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