At AdQuick, we’re proud of the work we do every single day to connect people in the real world to the brands, causes, and messages they care about.  One example we’re particularly proud of is our work with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, which recently earned gold honors in the 2021 MarCom Awards – an annual international program that recognizes excellence in marketing and communications across all media channels.

In March of 2020, the Public Health Department of Santa Clara County released a shelter-in-place order in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. To help combat misinformation and share vital, factual information with residents during a crucial time, Santa Clara County launched a critical public health advertising campaign. The County’s Emergency Operations Center partnered with AdQuick to quickly plan, execute, and measure a strategic out-of-home (OOH) campaign tailored to reach residents throughout the county.

Read on to learn more about this award-winning out-of-home advertising campaign, including 5 tips and best practices that every marketer can take away to improve the resonance and effectiveness of their own OOH advertising.

Tip #1: Leverage Out-of-Home Advertising to Overcome the Digital Divide

The Santa Clara County communications teams initially faced a formidable problem: How do you communicate urgent health information to a large and diverse population – many of whom may not have adequate access to computers and the internet – on a small budget when every minute matters?  The answer?  Out-of-home advertising.

“While we often provide information to our residents through digital mediums, we know that many people in our county experience a 'digital divide’,” explained Carolyn Le, of the Emergency Operations Center of Santa Clara County. “This was a matter of life and death, and we needed to ensure that we were reaching the entire population – so digital alone wouldn’t cut it.  We chose out-of-home advertisements because our data showed that those most at risk to being exposed by the virus were essential workers or those that could not afford to stay home.”

Tip #2: Utilize Multiple Out-of-Home Ad Formats & Tailored Creative to Maximize Reach and Impact

To complicate matters further, the county spans 1,304 square miles, including rural, agricultural, or otherwise hard-to-reach areas.  Additionally, over 40% of households in Santa Clara County are from non-English-speaking households, and in some neighborhoods this number rises to 70%.  In order to effectively communicate with all residents, the Emergency Operations Center would need to share their message in six different languages.

To maximize reach, the campaign included a diverse collection of out-of-home ad formats, including billboards, bus shelters, bus kings, and gas station TV (GSTV). Together, AdQuick and the Santa Clara County team deployed messaging in five different languages throughout high-risk, hard-to-reach zip codes, using data and internal resources to identify ideal locations.

“We found that we could use bus shelters and wraps to reach communities in South County, which is more agricultural and has fewer billboards”, said Le, “Our South County stakeholders group shared priority areas and helped identify placements that had an ability to speak to pockets of residents that are usually harder to reach.”

Tip #3: Leverage Data to Develop Resonant Messaging

Of importance was sharing critical COVID-19 prevention measures and calls to action with residents in multilingual, lower-income, and agricultural households who lacked access to digital or language-applicable messaging.

To achieve this, the County combined its internal data on three factors (location, primary language and population density) with AdQuick’s OOH technology and audience targeting capabilities. Facing a critical and aggressive timeline, the County worked with AdQuick’s creative services team to create culturally and linguistically competent campaigns that feature real, every-day community members.

Tip #4: Make It Personal

Much like the situation on-the-ground in Santa Clara County, the campaign messaging has evolved over time.  The County’s latest vaccination campaign championed creative that highlights local residents, farm workers and other essential workers, coaches and athletes, teachers and the like. There are no actors here. Rather, the County is honoring the everyday people who have continued doing their part to get vaccinated and stop the spread of COVID-19 within their communities.

In addition, the campaign included Javascript ads in communities with a high penetration of tech workers. These were specifically designed to encourage social sharing for maximum campaign virality – and they succeeded. The billboards generated significant buzz and acclaim on Twitter and other social networks.

Tip #5: Measure What Matters

The primary goal for the campaign was to raise awareness among residents of Santa Clara County, and the campaign far surpassed Santa Clara County’s reach goals. The campaign reached 99.25% of all residents in targeted, hard-to-reach zip codes, with an average frequency of 12.8.

The County’s campaigns have also resulted in real-life benefits, including a 77.2% completed vaccination rate of residents ages 12 and older as of July 2021 – far above the nation’s 57.1% vaccination rate. That’s over 1.3 million residents. Another 100,000 residents had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the time.

Ultimately the County’s initiative was so successful and integral to its COVID-19 response that it has continued its OOH campaign well into 2021, modifying its messaging as the pandemic has continued to evolve.

To learn more about how you can leverage the power of out-of-home advertising to reach your marketing goals, schedule a strategy session with one of our OOH experts.


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