State’s vaccination incentive is marketing 101; Will it pay off?

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Five vaccinated Coloradans will soon be $1 million richer.

Colorado’s Comeback Cash drawing features five $1 million prizes in an effort to boost vaccination rates in the state. 

“This is money that otherwise would have gone towards advertising and marketing,” Governor Polis said during a news conference Tuesday. 

The drawing mirrors the one in Ohio. While some people there and in Colorado have criticized incentive lotteries as a waste of money, marketing expert and Metro State University of Denver professor Darrin Duber-Smith is calling it a “genius” strategy. 

“How do you get people to behave? Punishment and rewards. Those are the two ways we do it,” he said. 

Instead of spending the state’s vaccine marketing budget on billboards, commercials, social media campaigns or even sign-spinners, Colorado is going all-in on the rewards. 

“The government is saying we’re going to offer an incentive the same way a company would offer a sales promotion or reward,” Duber-Smith said. 

From a marketing perspective, he says it is exactly the kind of tactic that is likely to get the state the most bang-for-its-buck. 

“It worked in Ohio beyond all belief,” he said. 

After announcing $5 million in prize money, Ohio saw a sharp increase in vaccine sign-ups. According to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, 2.7 million people signed up for the drawings. Such a high rate-of-return on the $5 million investment is almost unheard of in the marketing world, Duber-Smith said. 

“That’s just astronomically beyond what any marketer would ever expect,” Duber-Smith said. 

He predicts Colorado will have similar success and that many more states will follow suit in the coming days. 

“I’m surprised that governors are acting like businesses. They’re acting like marketers and they’re starting to remove the cheesy fear tactics and they’re starting to think of more positive ways to get us to do things,” Duber-Smith said. 

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