CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Panthers fans at Sunday's home game against New Orleans noticed a large truck driving around Uptown Charlotte with an interesting advertisement: "Don't get vaccinated."
The truck, which seemed to be advertising for a funeral home (that doesn't actually exist), quickly went viral on Twitter. The marketing stunt ultimately tied back to StarMed HealthCare, one of the largest providers of COVID-19 testing and vaccinations in the Charlotte metro.
The organization behind the truck says they're sending a straightforward message to unvaccinated people - and StarMed approves.
"If that's my way of thinking, I might actually go to that link and take a look at it," Chris Dobbins with StarMed HealthCare said. "Now you've got an audience that would probably not pay attention."
When you go to the funeral home's website, there's only one thing on the page: a button reading, "Get vaccinated now. If not, see you soon." The link takes you to StarMed's website.
StarMed has been on the front lines of the pandemic, testing and vaccinating tens of thousands of people and sending out funny, and at times, snarky tweets. But they're not actually responsible for this stunt.
"We got phone calls about all of this excitement," Dobbins said. "'Hey, we got redirected to your site.' We had to do a little homework and found out this company had a really good experience with StarMed and actually used us as their landing spot for this advertisement."
Dobbins, the chief of relations and response for StarMed, said the truck was organized by the advertising firm Boone Oakley. And it couldn't have come at a better time.
StarMed has been busy with testing and monoclonal antibody treatment, but vaccination rates are still slowly climbing. The most recent data showed 57% of Mecklenburg County residents have taken one shot, and 53% are fully vaccinated, according to Dobbins.
"We're all about anything that will help us bring attention or motivation to our neighbors to get vaccinated," he said.
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