Cannes Lions

Vaccinate The Block

R/GA, New York / UBER / 2022

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Overview

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Overview

Background

In 2021, the vaccination rate in the US was far below other countries (ranking 50th) for a host of reasons, but one of the biggest was simply a lack of access.

Millions of low-income Americans just don’t have reliable transportation. This results in 6M people a year missing medical appointments, a dynamic which COVID exacerbated in underserved communities of color.

Making matters even worse, in many of these same communities of color, there was also a lack of trust due to long-held, and justified, skepticism of the medical establishment stemming from unethical government experiments of the past (such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment). Which meant that free rides wouldn’t be enough, people first needed to trust the vaccine, much less Uber.

Idea

To get people in underserved communities to vaccination sites we needed to break down the barriers that stood in their way. First, by donating free rides to make it easier on them, both logistically and financially.

But before anyone would get in a car with us, we had to overcome their skepticism, so we brought in trusted messengers from those very same communities to build both awareness and confidence about the vaccine itself. “Vaccinate The Block,” was a rallying cry kicked off by Spike Lee and Tyler Mitchell on a single block in Brooklyn, which was echoed nationwide through medical and media professionals across social—combining the right message with the right messenger.

The tone was non-judgemental of hesitations or barriers. Rather, it celebrated these communities, and how with the help of Uber, people could get back to the things they loved about living in it a little sooner.

Strategy

As previously stated, the target was unvaccinated people living in underserved communities, many of whom were skeptical of the vaccine for a number of reasons (also mentioned above). Therefore, a giant corporation like Uber couldn’t just waltz in and offer a bunch of free rides to make it all better. In short, before we could vaccinate the block, we needed people FROM the block. Trusted messengers who lived, or came from, these very same communities. So, we minimized the celebrities and leveraged local influencers across the country, made up of medical professionals, artists, clergy, and leaders with clout- to educate, inform and enlighten as only they could.

Execution

Vaccinate The Block was a rallying cry for people in underserved communities to help protect their fellow neighbors by getting them vaccinated. Launched in a big way through TVC’s and OOH, Spike Lee and Tyler Mitchell helped drive mass awareness, walking the streets of the very block where they grew up in Brooklyn, as they shared the news about Uber’s donation of 10 million free rides nationwide.

But big celebrities could only take us so far, so we tapped local influencers and community leaders from their own respective “blocks” across the country to educate and encourage their neighbors to get vaccinated through various social channels.

Finally, we built a donation mechanism directly into the Uber app so that people in more privileged communities could also join the cause, raising an additional $2.4M, which was then put towards even more free rides.

Outcome

Two million free rides to vaccination sites were taken in just the first month of Vaccinate The Block. And on top of Uber’s donation of 10M free rides, customers donated an additional $2.4M directly from the app, which went towards even more free rides.

The campaign prompted a $1B commitment from President Biden to further help Vaccinate the Block, as Uber’s biggest competitor, Lyft, also joined the cause, donating even more rides still.

Vaccinate the Block (VTB) generated an unprecedented 92% positive sentiment around Uber during the campaign, with previous content yielding only about 14% respectively.

Influencer content on TikTok saw a spike in reach, with +373% average impressions, and on Twitter engagement was up +128%. In total, VTB garnered 21M organic impressions, driving reach among owned and unowned audiences.

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