SG govt opens up on relentless vaccination drive for seniors

The Singapore government has actively pushed on with its messaging for the silver generation to get vaccinated. Starting from PM Lee Hsien Loong's appeal to those above 60, to minister Ong Ye Kung appearing alongside Zoey Tay, there is no slowing down the initiative. With the government clear on its ambition to vaccinate about 75% of its population by early October, in a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Soffy Hariyanti, director of campaigns and productions department of MCI's public communications division, said the government will carry on with its targeted communications to reach seniors and their caregivers.

To date, many of its videos produced have been adapted in the four official languages and dialects to ensure it resonates with the silver generation. Moreover, mediums and formats such as radio capsules and customised infographics for print, digital and social media platforms have also been utilised. To ensure all bases have been covered, the government has also created infographics for OOH platforms at bus stops and MRT stations as well as the digital display panels in HDB estates.

According to an earlier MAGNA report, in 2020, TV spending actually increased due to the Singapore government stepping in to purchase TV inventory to support COVID-19 safety campaigns. In addition, the government increased overall spending and represents 20% of total spending in the market. 

"We weaved in relevant messages targeting seniors through programmes such as online getai shows also known as e-getai. Collaborating with recognisable personalities, we have shared their vaccination journeys and that of their senior family members and will continue to do so," she added. To ease fears around vaccination, MCI  has also been actively sharing interviews with medical experts on common questions asked about COVID-19 vaccines, as well as real-life stories of Singaporeans who got vaccinated. The people featured come from all walks of life and including seniors above 60 years old. MCI began the journey of a multi-platform and multi-lingual VacciNationSG campaign in January 2021 to raise awareness and public understanding of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. 

One of the Singapore government's campaigns which saw global press recognition was its vaccination drive with iconic TV character Phua Chu Kang. The #IGotMyShotSG campaign video titled "Get Your Shot, Steady Pom Pi Pi" encouraged Singaporeans to get their COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to them. To date the video has received over a million hits on YouTube. 

According to Hariyanti, MCI's polls and studies have showed that its communications to seniors have been well-received, with high reach, message takeaways and engagement. MCI has also seen encouraging uptake of vaccination among the seniors, with about 75% of seniors aged 60 and above having booked their appointments or received their vaccination so far, she said.

Many of MCI's campaigns have been created in partnership with DDB Group Singapore, including the "Get Your Shot, Steady Pom Pi Pi" campaign. Sharing his view with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Jeff Cheong, deputy CEO of DDB Group Singapore and president of Tribal Worldwide Asia, said to target the silver generation well, the government's communications strategy required an all-in approach to reach the segment. He added that the Singapore government has been versatile in experimenting on different platforms - sometimes non-traditional - to ensure their last-mile of conversion from e-Getai to WhatsApp messaging.

The silver generation of today have no doubt become much savvier with many of them having access to digital devices and turning to social media for their content consumption. This shift in behaviour, said DDB's Cheong, can provide a captive channel for brands and bodies to engage with them. But ultimately, it is the content that will speak strongest to the silver generation - as such it needs to be in the right language, be entertaining, informative and simple.

Industry players share their view

Industry players MARKETING-INTERACTIVE spoke to have said that the communications strategy undertaken by the Singapore government to reach out to the silver generation has been commendable.  Calling the initiatives "spot on" co-founder and managing partner of Blak Labs, Charlie Blower, said: "This is a group that is susceptible to fake news and misinformation, so it is critical that the government messaging comes across clearly and simply."

Is it enough? Only time will tell with vaccination numbers increasing.

When speaking to seniors, communicators must identify their different trigger or conversation points. Hence, marketing strategies and related activities for the silver segment need to be consciously designed around the same, Prakash Kamdar, CEO of dentsu Singapore. He added that this has been demonstrated in the government’s vaccination drive efforts including types of influencers, touch points/channels, choice of language and tone of communication to this segment demonstrate.

According to Kamdar, data-driven digital marketing should also be used when trying to reach the silver generation through campaigns. "It is a myth that the silver generation does not consume digital media, and even more so since seniors started to pick up smartphones to cope with COVID-19," he said. The Singapore government even launched the Seniors Go Digital programme to help seniors get started on their digital journey. Local telcos have also started to accelerate the bridging of the digital divide with affordable mobile data plans last year for low-income seniors, as reported by The Straits Times last year.

As digital adoption becomes more pervasive amongst seniors, so will the ability to reach them with targeted content, products and services/utility on digital devices based on their behaviour on such devices, Kamdar said.