Jessica Goodfellow
Mar 1, 2022

Vaccination campaign that 'resurrects' those who died from Covid wins Young Spikes award

A proposal to post messages about the life-saving qualities of vaccines from the social-media accounts of people who died of Covid—intended to be shocking enough to cut through social-media feeds—won gold in the Young Spikes digital competition.

(L-R) Shin Nakamura and Ayane Arita
(L-R) Shin Nakamura and Ayane Arita

The spread of Covid-related dis- and misinformation on social media has proven to be as dangerous to public health as the virus itself. Several studies have correlated exposure to bad information with vaccine hesitancy and declining vaccination coverage. How can the very tool that has contributed towards a global anti-vax movement be used to improve vaccination rates?

This was the challenge presented to participants of the Digital Competition at Young Spikes 2022. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, was looking for a proposal on how it could break through the feed of misinformation on social media and encourage vaccination against Covid among adults in low-and-middle-income countries in Asia.

Where most vaccination campaigns take a science-based approach, this can be ineffective when mistrust in all institutions—including government, business and the media—has increased as the pandemic has spread. Young Spikes teams needed a bold idea that wasn't easy to scroll past.

What if a pro-vaccination message could be delivered by those who died of Covid? This was the premise behind the campaign proposal from Ayane Arita and Shin Nakamura that won gold out of 17 submissions in the Digital Competition at Young Spikes.

In responding to the brief, Nakamura realised that "strong ideas always come from deep insights". So the duo spent time interviewing families who had lost a family member to Covid. In this process, they landed on the profound nature of the fact that the vast majority of Covid victims could be alive if only they'd been vaccinated.

In their research, Arita and Nakamura had also deduced that people who believe misinformation are still open to words that come from those who have had actual experiences.

"We thought that whilst people start to read misinformation they tend to focus on what they want to believe, which makes it difficult to encounter or accept opposing views, so we thought a strong hook was needed," Arita tells Campaign Asia-Pacific.

These insights led to the team's idea to resurrect the online presence of individuals—individuals who died of Covid before the vaccine was available—and use their profiles to send a message about how vaccines can save lives.

2022 Young Spikes Digital winners
Award Entry title Team
Gold #GetVaccineForTheirSake Shin Nakamura, art director, Fact Inc
Ayane Arita, copywriter, ADK Group
Silver Only If Zahid Alam Shovon, strategic planner, Madmen Digital
Md. Moazzem Mottakin, key account manager, Madmen Digital
Bronze The Social Swab Randy Baraceros, senior art director, Tribal DDB Philippines
Pauline Funa, senior social media producer, Tribal DDB Philippines

First, the team proposed recovering the social-media account of a person who died, with the family's permission, and posting a message from the account that would say: "I have an important message to tell you". This was designed to be the teaser of the campaign.

Then, the team would use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to create a "deep fake" video of the deceased person, in which they would ask people to rethink getting a vaccine. The AI element of the campaign was inspired by Yamaha Corporation's reproduction of the singing of the late Hibari Misora in 2019.

Finally, the team proposed asking family members and friends to share 'On This Day' memories that would show the family members with the person who passed away, as a reminder that they lost someone to Covid who could have been saved.


"This was an extremely delicate and sensitive matter to many people around the globe. But we wanted honour the ones that may have passed away before vaccination was widely available," Arita explains.

Ryo Nakagawa, the creative director/PR Architect at Dentsu Inc, who was a juror for the Digital Competition, said the idea was "the strongest in the competition".

"We are living in the world with Covid vaccine, and it is blessing compared to the world without the vaccine," Nakagawa said. "This fact, which we are not conscious in our daily life, has a chance to change our perception. Because of its certainty and insight to the subject compared to other ideas, I want to give you my personal gold prize."

This competition was the first time Arita and Nakamura have worked together. Arita has entered into Young Lions competitions before but has never won. She asked Nakamura if he would partner with her this year "because he is famous in our company as an art director". Both Arita and Nakamura work at ADK Group—Nakamura works at a boutique agency under the group called Fact.

Nakamura says he entered Young Spikes for the first time "to challenge myself outside the field of my work".

"Especially, Young Spikes is a well-known competition to the whole world. I am joining this worldwide competition which creators from all over the world look up in order to know how much I can contribute to this industry on an international standard," he explains.

On working together for the first, Arita says: "We started from the point of getting to know one another, know what the person is like, how they get ideas, what are their strengths and weaknesses."

Both creatives say they gained valuable experience from the competition they can apply to their work.

Arita says: "I got the chance to find my strengths and weaknesses. I found that my weakness is to explain ideas logically which he [Nakamura] is very good at, I have learned a lot from him. On the other hand I found that I am good at creating bold ideas and finding creative insight. This developed my confidence too."

Nakamura added: "We now know the importance of preparation. In this competition, we made a plan by considering how we could win the competition. For example, we could know our way of thoughts by doing mock exercises. Also we researched many past works and thought about what we need and what is required to win the competition."

The duo reviewed winning work from Cannes Lions and Spikes Asia as part of their research, from which they "learnt the power of simple ideas", Nakamura says.

"Personally I’ve always kept in mind that the proposal (especially visual and art direction in our submission board) should be simple and easy to understand. This is because we didn’t have a live session with the jury this year in the Digital competition," he adds.

The team also focused in on whether the idea "has the power to change the target's perception, and to change even their behaviour."

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