As the COVID pandemic story continues to play out, there's still the question about the millions of Americans who refuse to be vaccinated.
Recently conducted research by Morning Consult reveals many reasons why people aren't interested in getting the shot(s). The story by Gaby Galvin shows the number one reason the “un-vaxxed” have avoided the shot is because of concern over its long-term effects (44%), followed closely by those who say there's “too much conflicting information” about the vaccine.
The research, conducted April 30-May 2 among 2,200 U.S. adults, more than half of whom are unvaccinated.
But once you get beyond these reasons for avoiding the COVID vaccines, it turns out many of them can be bought. That's right – 57% say they'd definitely/probably get a shot if it paid them a $1,000 saving bond; 43% say it would take only a $50 saving bond to motivate them to roll up their sleeves.
There's considerable interest in vaccine bribes, especially among 18-44 year-olds. Resistance appears highest among those in the 45-64 age bracket.
Somewhere, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine must be smiling. Last week, he launched a vaccine lottery to encourage his constituents to get vaxxed. Later this month, Ohio starts a five week promotion (right in the middle of the spring book, Ohio radio stations) where a $1 million prize will be awarded each week to one lucky vaxxer. You must have received at least one dose of the vaccine in order to play.
But wait, there's more!
Vaccinated Ohioans under 18 will be eligible for a drawing that will award college scholarships, including tuition and room and board.
Here is Governor DeWine's promo. Not to be critical, it is not PPM friendly at more than three minutes long. There's no music, no “Mr. Big Voice,” and a startling absence of Star Wars sound effects.
If this works, DeWine could be named “PD of the Year,” effectively using contesting to change his audience's (er…constituents') behavior. In this case, it's a heavy lift – inspiring reluctant Ohioans to put aside their skepticism about the safety of the vaccine and even their political beliefs in order to be eligible for the big prize.
As you might expect, politicians from both parties are indignant about the idea of bribing people to get the vaccine. That is, until it proves to be a success.
The Morning Consult data suggests it will work, although DeWine might have gotten the same result while paying out a lot less prize money. Every programmer knows it's smart to pre-test your prizes to learn the one that yields the best result for the least amount of expenditure.
Nonetheless, DeWine's bold effort is a reminder why radio contests are so effective. People may say they don't matter, but there's a reason why program directors across the spectrum give away cash and other prizes.
Even public radio managers will tell you that without the “premiums” (tote bags, T-shirts, smart speakers, free tickets), their pledge drives would be considerably less successful.
Every year in Techsurvey, we ask the “Why Radio?” question. And every year, “to win prizes” is one of the lowest performing attributes. As is often the case, in our new 2021 survey, it sits at the bottom of a long list:
Every time it appears (or I present it), I get the question, “So, why does virtually every radio station still do contests if they're so unpopular?”
And my answer:
Because they work.
Contests may not be a major driver – or even a minor attraction – when people think about the motivations behind listening to the radio. But the right contest, at the right time, featuring the right “carrot,” can be (and often is) very effective.
Governor DeWine is tapping into that – yes, bribing those who say they won't get vaxxed into changing their behavior. If Ohio's vaccinated numbers jump. look for other states to try their own lotteries. Maybe several will work together to create “collective vaccine contests.”
And Ohio's “ratings” are the most important of all. The percentage of the state's residents who have gotten the shot, and – hopefully – lower cases of COVID as a result.
The payoff? Better than a revised rate card, Ohio could lead the return to getting our lives back.
As Nielsen will tell you – and soon Ohioans – don't bet against contests.
In the meantime, if you don't have any contest money set aside this year, do the next best thing:
Check the prize closet.