Charlotte, NC – A North Carolina advertising agency has garnered national attention for creating a funeral home billboard in hopes of motivating people to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
A simple message painted in black and white was “DO NOT VACCINE” on a box truck being driven around Charlotte on Sunday outside Bank of America Stadium.
The ad appears to be sponsored by Wilmore Funeral Home with a listed web address. when you go on its website, the message then reads “Get vaccinated now. If not, see you soon.” The link provided then takes you to StarMed Healthcare To be registered for a COVID-19 vaccine.
The BooneOakley agency said there is no such thing as a Wilmore Funeral Home, and that the billboard was a publicity stunt to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Of course it’s disappointing that not enough people are getting vaccinated,” President David Oakley told Granthshala television stations on Wednesday. “From my point of view, it’s a no brainer. You know it’s medical science. Protect yourself from this virus.”
Oakley said he and his team thought about the idea weeks before the rollout.
“We were thinking about what we could do to help get more shots in the arms,” he said. “And you know we’re a creative advertising agency, and we said you know, maybe we should use our talents for the common good.”
Oakley said the team went with the funeral home angle because they believed it was a business that has unfortunately prospered during the pandemic.
“What was unique about advertising to me was it gave people a little bit of the wrong direction,” Oakley continued.
According to North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 52% of the total population of the state is fully immunized. A slight increase in vaccination rates was followed by a slight decrease in mid-August. The number of positive cases has also come down recently across the state.
Oakley received the vaccine and to the best of his knowledge, he has not contracted the coronavirus. However, he said that he knows many people who have become ill and some who have died from the virus.
Oakley said he’s not sure anyone got the vaccine because of his ad. StarMade Healthcare declined to comment on Granthshala television stations.
“If this advertising campaign persuades one person to get the vaccine, it will be worthwhile,” Oakley said.
Oakley said his company doesn’t plan to reintroduce fake funeral advertising, but his team is looking at different ways to spread the message.
“One that is as stimulating as it is not going to be for everyone,” he continued. “Some people are going to be offended by it. But the people who don’t vaccinate me annoy me.”
“So there. We are too,” he said.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.