'Funeral Home' Drives 'Don't Get Vaccinated' Truck Around City to Push Vaccines

More than 181 million people in the U.S. have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of September 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

That leaves approximately 45.4 percent of Americans who have yet to fully vaccinated against the virus. From the White House to local governments, there continue to be widespread efforts trying to incentivize more Americans to get the jab.

In Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, home to the state's biggest city, Charlotte, the percentage of vaccinated residents falls just under the national average at 51.1 percent, according to the CDC.

On Sunday, while the Carolina Panthers played the New Orleans Saints, one Twitter user spotted a truck making laps around Bank of America Stadium with the words "Don't get vaccinated" printed in large letters.

At first glance, the messaging may seem like a strategy from anti-vaccine groups, but upon closer look, it appears the message is from Wilmore Funeral Home.

Don't Get Vaccinated
A truck with the words "Don't get vaccinated" printed on it did laps around Bank of America Stadium on Sunday in Charlotte, North Carolina. A local ad agency was behind the campaign to push vaccines. Katie Guenther

Katie Guenther posted the photo along with the caption "Y'all know I love a good marketing tactic. This is a good one" she wrote, accompanied by a laughing emoji.

"Perfection," one Twitter user responded.

Some users were not as supportive, thinking such a serious matter should not be addressed in this way: "670,000 people don't think it's funny," one user said, attaching a video from the installation of 670,000 white flags in Washington, D.C., signifying the number of lives lost to the virus.

Below the larger message on the truck, a website for the supposed funeral home is advertised. After visiting the site, the messaging continues with the words "Get Vaccinated Now," "If not, see you soon."

After viewing the site, visitors will find that there is no such funeral home.

Clicking the words "Get Vaccinated Now" leads to StarMed Healthcare's COVID-19 vaccine page. StarMed is an urgent care center in Charlotte.

So, how did this come to be? Boone Oakley, an ad agency in Charlotte, came up with the idea of the campaign internally as a way to help push people to get vaccinated.

"Almost everyone here [at Boone Oakley] got their vaccines at StarMed," David Oakley, president of Boone Oakley, told Newsweek.

He said he and his team found out about the urgent care centers through their humorous Twitter feed.

"A lot of pro-vaccine advertising is very straightforward," Oakley said. "We thought, 'Is there a way to turn it around and do it from a different perspective?'"

Once they formed the idea, they reached out to Crenshaw Visions in South Carolina to purchase their mobile billboard.

Oakley said that although they were a bit nervous about the campaign, if just one person gets vaccinated because of it—it's worth it.