$900K HealthyMKE campaign targets anti-vaxxers

(Milwaukee wants you to get vaccinated)

HealthyMKE, a broad coalition of local government, non-profit, health care, public health and community organizations, is launching a comprehensive multi-media and grassroots campaign designed to help empower local residents to make informed choices when it comes to getting vaccinated.

Nearly everyday, it seems someone is putting out a new campaign message to encourage people to get vaccinated.  In fact, earlier this month, even the Biden Administration announced plans to launch an ambitious advertising campaign in April to combat vaccine hesitancy.

But as well-intended and, hopefully, effective as these national measures are, in the end, local officials acknowledge that vaccine messages delivered by community members — neighbors, friends, small business owners — can work better than those campaigns featuring celebrities or even the president.

The new data-driven campaign will especially target residents of Milwaukee County who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and are undecided about receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.

The campaign went into market on Monday April 12 and will ontinue into summer, supported by ongoing grassroots community mobilization work that will significantly expand in the next two weeks.

The first phase of the multi-media ad campaign, dubbed “Authentic Voices,” includes TV, radio, digital outdoor billboard, online digital and social media advertising featuring diverse members of the Milwaukee community.

“As we conducted focus groups with members of Milwaukee communities to inform the approach and messaging for this campaign, the resounding feedback was that people want clear information, and they want to hear from their neighbors, elders and people they trust,” said Lorraine Lathen, president and CEO of Jump at the Sun Consultants, LLC. “The stories this campaign elevates and the voices it features are straight out of our neighborhoods and reflect the diversity of our community.”

Which is where Healthy MKE comes in.

In the new pro bono HealthyMKE campaign developed by Hanson Dodge, we hear school teachers, clergy, small business owners, veterans, healthcare workers and other community members talk about, in their own words, the reasons why they chose to get vaccinated so that they can get back to the people, places and things that they love. 

The data-driven campaign is targeting for 80% of residents to become fully vaccinated.  

The creative also draws on the talents of several Black and women-owned production companies and other local partners.  Among them:  Amanda Evans Photography, Samer Ghani Photography, Tyshun Wardlaw Productions, INPOWER Creative and Jump at the Sun consultants. Watch below:

“Getting vaccinated is a personal choice – our intent is to make sure it’s also an informed choice,” said Mara Lord, chair of the Milwaukee area vaccine communications and community mobilization efforts.

Lord adds, “This campaign recognizes the importance of hearing authentic, relatable stories from local members of the community – from schoolteachers to retired veterans, healthcare workers, clergy, small business owners and more – to both honor their unique perspectives and show how getting vaccinated is a way to express personal strength and commitment, so that we can all get back to the people, places and things we love.”

Here’s a look at some of the outdoor and digital creative:

A Personal Push

Beyond the visible HealthyMKE advertising push, organizers are also significantly increasing community mobilization efforts to reach people where they are and share vaccine information in an authentic and personal manner.

More than 200 individuals will be trained to engage in door-to-door canvasing, with a particular emphasis on 15 ZIP codes identified as having the highest vulnerability in the Milwaukee area based on guidance from the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index. The grassroots efforts also include outreach to community-based organizations, faith-based leaders and other community leaders to reach networks of individuals.

Combined, Milwaukee-area campaign and community mobilization efforts represent a more than $900,000 investment to build vaccine confidence in the Milwaukee area. Funding and in-kind support for this effort comes from a variety of civic and community partners, including Bader Philanthropies, City of Milwaukee, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Hanson Dodge, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee County, Milwaukee Health Care Partnership, United Way, VISIT Milwaukee and Zilber Family Foundation, and fundraising efforts continue

According to a Hanson Dodge spokesman, the TV, radio and outdoor effort for HealthyMKE was developed as part of the agency’s deep-seated commitment to create health equity in communities of color who were hardest hit by the pandemic. 



Chair:  Mara Lord


  • Executive Creative Director:  Chris Buhrman
  • Creative Director:  Joe Ciccarelli
  • Art Director:  Damian Strigens
  • Copywriter:  Mike Betette
  • Producer:  Michael Joyce
  • Editor:  Brad Rochford
  • Brand Strategist:  Sean Pitts

PRODUCTION COMPANY:  Tyshun Wardlaw Productions

Director:  Tyshun Wardlaw


Video:  WonderWonder

Audio:  Independent Studios


Samer Ghani Photography

Amanda Evans Photography


Jump at the Sun Consultants:  Lorraine Lathen

INPOWER Creative:  Aziz Abdullah

2-Story Creative:  Ellen Homb