Moderna's 'Make it Yours' vaccine campaign taps local partners like Seattle Seahawks, Boston Red Sox

Baseball stadium with rows of red seats
Moderna's vaccine awareness campaign offers posters and digital assets for community groups that want to use its messaging.(Getty Images)

From home improvement shows to Louis Vuitton fashion, “Make it Yours” slogans have encouraged people to adopt their own style. Now, Moderna is using the tagline to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations.

The awareness campaign website answers consumer questions—with dozens of definitions and explainers, plus extensive links to federal agency information, including the CDC’s vaccines.gov local shot-finder.

It also offers marketing resources for local community partners, including posters and digital assets that can be adapted by any group that wants to co-opt Moderna's pro-vaccination message.

The company's push combines those customizable resources with a test-and-learn strategy centered on local partnerships as it decides what will work on a national level. Hook-ups with NFL and MLB teams, along with a health system partnership in Boston, are helping it determine what's next.

“There are lots of campaigns out there to help educate people,” said Michael Mullette, Moderna’s VP of commercial operations in North America. “The government is running them, states, counties, towns—everybody is running their own campaigns. We don’t want to compete with that. What we want to do is support that effort and provide it in a way that can be used by many different partners.”

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Among COVID-19 vaccine makers, Modena has been relatively quiet on the marketing side. Partly because of its size—pharma giants Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson already operated massive marketing machines before the pandemic—but also partly because of its company culture.

“Testing and learning is Moderna’s style, and that’s what we’re doing with our education efforts in communities,” Mullette said.

To that end, Moderna is trialing different partnerships, including hook-ups with pro football team Seattle Seahawks—the city has been an ongoing clinical trial site for Moderna—and Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox, near Moderna’s company headquarters.

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The Seattle NFL partnership includes an animated TV ad with voiceover by former star player Jordan Babineaux. He talks about the Seahawks’ rule to “always protect the team” and encourages fans, who are known as the “12s,” to get vaccinated so everyone can get back to tailgating, game days and celebrations in the community.

The Red Sox connection has included ads on the Green Monster left-field scoreboard wall and other promotions, such as a "Moderna presents the mRNA mRBI" of the game during broadcasts.

“With some partners like the Red Sox and Seattle Seahawks, and some other institutions who came to us early on, we’re doing a kind of test-and-learn with them to see what works and what sticks,” Mullette said.

"Before we do that with big national organizations, it's important ... we see actually what works before we go out and waste everyone’s time, energy and effort," he said.

With the White House this week putting its stamp of approval on boosters and the FDA recommending boosters for certain groups, like people who are immunocompromised, Moderna again is taking a measured response.

“We’re preparing in the background, but we’re going to follow their cue and make sure that we all are speaking from the same playbook,” Mullette said, adding it plans to “make sure whatever we put out through the ‘Make it Yours’ campaign is accurate and consistent with government recommendations.”

Meanwhile, Moderna is preparing for full FDA approval and a stepped-up marketing campaign, although its efforts will remain community-focused.

“In this country, what we realize is that everyone has a very independent reason for getting vaccinated,” he said. “It’s not only for the common good, and that’s really the whole point of the 'Make it Yours' campaign—help people find the reason they want to get immunized.”