Over the weekend, residents of Charlotte, North Carolina — as well as any football fans in the city for the big game — were surprised to see a truck advertising a local funeral home sporting an unexpected slogan: “Don’t get vaccinated.”
Onlookers took to Twitter to post pictures of the unusual automobile, which observers said driven continuous “laps” around the Bank of America Stadium just before the Carolina Panthers were scheduled to play their rivals, the New Orleans Saints. It continued its “laps” during the game as well, according to Twitter time stamps.
However it’s since been revealed that the “Wilmore Funeral Home” does not in fact exist, and the morbid “advertisement” was actually a publicity stunt hoping to inspire onlookers to get vaccinated against Covid. Thus, the very calculated decision to promote the message in literal circles around a major NFL football game.
The “funeral home” website advertised on the vehicle, wilmorefuneralhome.com, is actually online, but only consists of a landing page that reads — rather ominously — “Get vaccinated now. If not, see you soon.” Clicking “get vaccinated now” then re-directs visitors to StarMed Healthcare’s COVID-19 registration page.
Charlotte advertising agency Boone Oakley has since come forward as the creator of the unique marketing ploy, asserting that it was an effort to encourage North Carolina residents to get vaccinated. Only 49 percent of the eligible population has been vaccinated in North Carolina, and the average daily Covid cases have increased by 48% in just 14 days according to the New York Times’ COVID-19 vaccine tracker.
David Oakley, president of Boone Oakley, told Newsweek that “almost everyone here [at Boone Oakley] got their vaccines at StarMed,” which piqued their interest in promoting the urgent care centres.
As for what inspired the uncommon advertising campaign, Oakley said: ”A lot of pro-vaccine advertising is very straightforward. We thought, ‘Is there a way to turn it around and do it from a different perspective?’” Upon conceptualising their unprecedented plan, Oakley then contacted Crenshaw Visions in South Carolina to make their mobile billboard a reality.
Oakley also admitted that the team was initially nervous but it would have been worthwhile if it could inspire one person to get vaccines.