Puerto Rico Covid-19 Vaccine Messaging Gets Boost from Local Influencers

Direct Relief collaborates with Facebook Data for Good and Voces Puerto Rico to understand effective Covid-19 vaccine message strategies.


Puerto Rico

A Direct Relief volunteer assists people inside the Puerto Rico Convention Center during the first mass Covid-19 vaccination event in San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 31, 2021. (Photo by Ricardo ARDUENGO / AFP)
A Direct Relief volunteer assists people inside the Puerto Rico Convention Center during the first mass Covid-19 vaccination event in San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 31, 2021. (Photo by Ricardo ARDUENGO / AFP)

Editor’s note: This report was written in collaboration with Voces Staff and Facebook Data for Good.

Results from a recent online study conducted by Direct Relief, Facebook Data for Good and Puerto Rican vaccination organization, Voces Coalición de Inmunización y Promoción de la Salud en Puerto Rico, suggest that the use of local celebrities may be effective in Covid-19 vaccine promotion among younger audiences.


The effectiveness of four separate ads, each featuring a different celebrity, was tested among two target audiences. The two defined target groups consisted of younger individuals (between ages 18-34) and older (35+) located in Puerto Rico. The study launched in mid-August and ran for three weeks, reaching over 486,000 people in Puerto Rico.

The celebrities featured in these ads included: musical artist VF7, members of the Vaqueros de Bayamón Puerto Rican professional basketball team Benito Santiago and Victor Carattini, former professional baseball player Carlos Delgado, and Puerto Rican actress/comedian Angela Mayer. The messaging of these ads promoted the goal of reaching 70% of the Puerto Rican population vaccination rate, directed individuals to visit Voces Puerto Rico’s vaccination clinics, as well as click on Voces’ vaccination clinic calendar. The study garnered nearly 38,000 visits to Voces’ vaccination clinic calendar.

Examples of the four ad creatives, as seen on Facebook’s mobile interface.

VF 7 Ad:

Benito Santiago and Victor Carattini  – Vaqueros de Bayamón Ad:

Carlos Delgado Ad:

Angela Mayer Ad:

To understand how well different approaches performed with the target audience in terms of shifting attitudes towards the Covid-19 vaccine, the research team conducted a brand lift survey comparing viewers who saw the ads (the test group) and those who did not (the control group) on a range of questions related to vaccine acceptance. The survey measured the individual’s recall of the ad, perceived importance of vaccinations in preventing Covid-19, perceived social approval of the Covid-19 vaccine, and whether the individual knew where in their community they could receive a Covid-19 vaccine.

Results from this study suggest that the ads were effective in promoting social approval of vaccinations among the younger audience, with a +2.8 percentage point difference in this question when compared to the control group. Additionally, results suggest that this study was effective in promoting where people can get the vaccine in their community for both younger and older audiences with a difference of +2.2 and +2.0 percentage points respectively. Conversely, the ads were not effective in promoting the “importance of the vaccine” for either audience.

Table 1. Campaign Results Highlighting Where Ad Exposure Caused a Positive Shift in Attitudes Between Test and Control Groups

Final results of the study indicate that thousands of individuals reported to be more accepting and/or knowledgeable of the Covid-19 vaccine as a result of the campaign.

Apart from the survey results, during the three week campaign, Voces observed an increase in average daily vaccinations compared to the month leading up to the campaign. The increase was considerable, but it’s important to note that other factors, including non-Facebook outreach may have contributed to an increase in uptake during the campaign period.

Table 2. Voces Average Daily Vaccination Data

The results of this digital campaign are extremely encouraging and highlight the efficacy of digital campaigns for building confidence in vaccines. Moreover, we learned that depicting influencers can be an effective strategy for disseminating useful information about vaccines and improving perceptions of social approval.

“At VOCES we are satisfied to be part of this initiative. The campaign Ready Para Abrazarnos achieved an impressive impact among the different sectors of the population who responded to the call for vaccination against Covid-19. The feeling of unity as a country was one of solidarity and support,” said Lilliam Rodríguez Capó, CEO and founder of Voces.

“As COVID-19 vaccine uptake lags among younger adults in the U.S., the results from this collaboration demonstrate that influencers can be effective in promoting vaccine information and social approval among this demographic,” said Kadeem Khan, Research Manager, Data for Good at Facebook.

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